Navigation Links
Eyes are windows to the soul -- and evolution
Date:3/20/2014

ITHACA, N.Y. Why do we become saucer-eyed from fear and squint from disgust?

These near-opposite facial expressions are rooted in emotional responses that exploit how our eyes gather and focus light to detect an unknown threat, according to a study by a Cornell University neuroscientist.

Media note: Images, video and research paper available at: https://cornell.box.com/EyeEvolution

Our eyes widen in fear, boosting sensitivity and expanding our field of vision to locate surrounding danger. When repulsed, our eyes narrow, blocking light to sharpen focus and pinpoint the source of our disgust.

The findings by Adam Anderson, professor of human development in Cornell's College of Human Ecology, suggest that human facial expressions arose from universal, adaptive reactions to environmental stimuli and not originally as social communication signals, lending support to Charles Darwin's 19th century theories on the evolution of emotion.

"These opposing functions of eye widening and narrowing, which mirror that of pupil dilation and constriction, might be the primitive origins for the expressive capacity of the face," said Anderson. "And these actions are not likely restricted to disgust and fear, as we know that these movements play a large part in how perhaps all expressions differ, including surprise, anger and even happiness."

Anderson and his co-authors described these ideas in the paper, "Optical Origins of Opposing Facial Expression Actions," published in the March 2014 issue of Psychological Science.

Looks of disgust result in the greatest visual acuityless light and better focus; fearful expressions induce maximum sensitivitymore light and a broader visual field.

"These emotions trigger facial expressions that are very far apart structurally, one with eyes wide open and the other with eyes pinched," said Anderson, the paper's senior author. "The reason for that is to allow the eye to harness the properties of light that are most useful in these situations."

What's more, emotions filter our reality, shaping what we see before light ever reaches the inner eye.

"We tend to think of perception as something that happens after an image is received by the brain, but in fact emotions influence vision at the very earliest moments of visual encoding."

Anderson's Affect and Cognition Laboratory is now studying how these contrasting eye movements may account for how facial expressions have developed to support nonverbal communication across cultures.

"We are seeking to understand how these expressions have come to communicate emotions to others," he said. "We know that the eyes can be a powerful basis for reading what people are thinking and feeling, and we might have a partial answer to why that is."


'/>"/>

Contact: Melissa Osgood
mmo59@cornell.edu
607-255-2059
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Feel-good glass for windows
2. Fingerprint Cards (FPC) Demonstrates Fingerprint Biometric Touch Sensor for Microsoft Windows 8.1
3. Bio-inspired design may lead to more energy efficient windows
4. Leading evolutionary scientist to discuss how genome of bacteria has evolved
5. An evolutionary surprise
6. Ancient Egyptian cotton unveils secrets of domesticated crop evolution
7. Did climate change shape human evolution?
8. A University of Tennessee professors hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
9. Analysis of stickleback genome sequence catches evolution in action
10. Study shows unified process of evolution in bacteria and sexual eukaryotes
11. Rapid method of assembling new gene-editing tool could revolutionize genetic research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2016)... April 27, 2016 Research ... Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  ... The analysts forecast the global multimodal ... 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  Multimodal ... sectors such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a new ... higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health ... mass index, and, when they opt in, share them ... to a local retail location at no cost. By ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... 2016 According to ... for Consumer Industry by Type (Image, Motion, Pressure, ... & IT, Entertainment, Home Appliances, & Wearable ... 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market for ... USD 26.76 Billion by 2022, at a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" ... commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors ... such as WDR5 represent an exciting class of ... precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new ... prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., ... Leader at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field ... DNA team,” said Jocelyn Tremblay, President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... LONDON , June 23, 2016 ... & Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 ... Review , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, ... the escalating cost of cancer care is placing ... a result of expensive biologic therapies. With the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: