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Tiny Changes in Facial Color Telegraph Your Emotions

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Apr 3rd 2018

new article illustration

TUESDAY, April 3, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Could new forms of artificial intelligence someday guess what you're feeling just by looking at you?

It's a good bet, according to Ohio State University researchers who study human expressions of emotions.

They say subtle changes in facial color telegraph your feelings to other people -- and they created computer algorithms that can detect the same changes.

Even without other clues, their study found people are able to use slight shifts in blood flow color around the nose, eyebrows, cheeks or chin to correctly identify another person's feelings up to 75 percent of the time.

"We identified patterns of facial coloring that are unique to every emotion we studied," said lead author Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

"We believe these color patterns are due to subtle changes in blood flow or blood composition triggered by the central nervous system. Not only do we perceive these changes in facial color, but we use them to correctly identify how other people are feeling, whether we do it consciously or not," Martinez said in a university news release.

Based on those findings, the researchers created computer algorithms that use face color to correctly recognize human emotion up to 90 percent of the time. They said these algorithms may lead to new types of artificial intelligence that can recognize and imitate human emotions.

The study was published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

Helpguide.org has more on nonverbal communication.