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Faces Speak Louder Than Words

“Communication is a central aspect of everyday life, a fact that is reflected in the wide variety of ways that people exchange information, not only with words, but also using their face and body. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, found out that we are able to recognize facial expressions in motion -- for example, in a movie -- far better than in a static photograph. The video sequence needs to be at least as long as one tenth of a second to gain this dynamic advantage. A facial expression can state a lot. A nod indicates understanding, a frown may say: "Please explain that again!" Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics discovered that we are able to classify an expression much better when it moves naturally rather than when it is "frozen" in a photograph. In order to gain the advantage of dynamic information, we need to see the expression moving for at least 100 milliseconds. If the video sequence is shorter, our brain is less capable of interpreting the facial motion. Some expressions rely on changes in head orientation, for example, a nod or a shake of the head, others on the complex deformation of facial parts, such as wrinkling our nose to signalize disgust or a frown.”
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