A team of researchers from Ohio State University including an Indian-origin scientist Ramprakash Srinivasan have been able to locate the area of the brain which helps to recognize facial expressions.
One area of the brain appears to be responsible for recognizing facial expressions, a new study finds. The area is on the right side of the brain behind the ear, in a region called as the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS).
They discovered that neural patterns within the pSTS are specialised for recognising movement in specific parts of the face. Suggesting that actually, our brains are capable enough to decode facial expressions by adding up sets of key muscle movements in the face of the person we are looking at. The discovery suggests that while one pattern is tuned to detect a furrowed brow; another is tuned to detect the upturn of lips into a smile, and so on.
Researchers placed 10 college students into an Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) machine and showed them over 1,000 photographs of people making facial expressions. These expressions corresponded to seven different emotional categories - disgusted, happily surprised, happily disgusted, angrily surprised, fearfully surprised, sadly fearful and fearfully disgusted.
The study was published in the April issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.