Have you ever felt your face flush with embarrassment, or prickle with anger? Just as we recognise these feelings rising, it seems other people do too. Participants in a recent study were often able to spot emotions in strangers’ faces, from changes in blood flow around their cheeks, chin, nose, and eyebrows. The woman in this picture is making happy or angry expressions, but only in the left of each pair is she also producing the distinctive blood patterns associated with the true emotion (her happy cheeks in the top left, for example). While these patterns are universal across age, gender or race, we have different patterns for related emotions, such as 'angry' and 'disgusted' or 'happy' and 'happily disgusted' (respectively from the left in the maps bottom row). It's possible that these subtleties may be missed by some sufferers of expressive agnosia, leading to confusion in reading emotion.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.