Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Science https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ So happy to see you: our brains react emotionally to faces we find in inanimate objects, study reveals | Australia news

So happy to see you: our brains react emotionally to faces we find in inanimate objects, study reveals | Australia news



Whether in a cloud, the front of a car, or a $ 28,000 toasted sandwich that looks like the Virgin Mary, seeing faces in lifeless objects is a common experience.

According to new research from the University of Sydney, our brains detect and react emotionally to these illusory faces in the same way they do to real human faces.

Face pareidolia – seeing faces in random objects or patterns of light and shadow ̵

1; is an everyday phenomenon. Once considered a symptom of psychosis, it stems from a defect in the visual perception.

Lead researcher Prof David Alais, of the University of Sydney, said that human brains are evolutionarily hard to recognize faces with highly specialized brain areas for face detection and treatment.

A lid in concrete pipe in Tokyo, Japan that looks like a face
A concrete pipe lid in Tokyo, Japan, above. Below: the window pattern on a corrugated cardboard metal building. Photo: cannon nightsky / Getty Images / iStockphoto
Windows on a corrugated cardboard metal building that looks like a face
Photo: Steve Cicero / Getty Images

“We are such a sophisticated social species and facial recognition is very important,” Alais said. “You have to recognize who it is, is it family, is it a friend or foe, what are their intentions and feelings?

“Faces are discovered incredibly quickly. The brain seems to do this … using some sort of template-matching procedure, so if it sees an object that appears to have two eyes over a nose over a mouth, then it goes: ‘Oh, I see a face. ‘

“It’s a little fast and loose, and sometimes it makes mistakes, so something that looks like a face will often trigger this template match.”

The researchers showed people a sequence of faces – a jumble of both real faces and pareidolia images – and had participants rate each facial expression on a scale between angry and happy.

The researchers found that lifeless objects had a similar emotional priming effect as real faces.

Piece of whole wheat bread with smiley face
A piece of wholemeal bread. Below: A towel dispenser in a public bathroom that appears to be smiling.
Photo: PhotoAlto / Laurence Mouton / Getty Images
A towel dispenser in a public bathroom that seems to smile
Photo: photo by Dave Gorman / Getty Images
Fried eggs that look like eyes
Our brains detect and react emotionally to these illusory faces in the same way they do to real human faces. Photo: Lorenzo Cerioni / Getty Images / EyeEm

“What we found out was that these pareidolia images are actually processed by the same mechanism that would normally process emotions in a real face,” Alais said.

“You are somehow unable to completely turn off this facial response and emotional response and see it as an object. It remains an object and a face at the same time. ”

The study may help inform research into artificial intelligence or facial disorders such as prosopagnosia, he said.

Previous research co-authored by Alais showed that when judging a range of faces, the perception of a person’s appearance was biased by the previously shown image. “If the previous one was attractive, they rated the current one more attractive,” Alais said.

A door handle that looks like a face
‘You are somehow unable to completely turn off facial response and emotional response and see it as an object.’ Photo: Carol Haynes / Getty Images / EyeEm

“This is also happening with expression,” he said. “If you’ve seen a happy face before, the next face will be judged a little happier.”

The latest study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


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