Do you smile

When you smile the world smiles back

The director of CNRU at the Psychological Faculty of City University London, Prof. Tina Forster, explains about this research work: “We are the first to prove that the primary neural processing of the facial features of our fellow human beings depends on our own facial expressions. Our research supports the adage "When you smile at the world, the world smiles back", because the brain of the test subjects reacted - when they smiled - to neutral faces in a similar way to smiling ones. "

The team used EEG (electroencephalography) to measure the changes in the brain activity of 25 test subjects, while they were supposed to assume either happy or neutral facial expressions when looking at photographs with smiling or neutral-looking faces. The analysis focused on two electrophysiological voltage peaks, the VPP and the N170, which occur in face processing approximately 150 to 170 milliseconds after a facial expression is perceived.

The team found that neutral faces are processed in a similar way to happy faces if you adopt a happy facial expression yourself. “I think that this effect arises from the fact that the body is very closely connected to the soul,” says Forster. “The fact that when we smile, we interpret neutral expressions as smiles, shows how strongly the information emanating from our body can influence our perception. Some therapists have already used this phenomenon by telling their patients to smile a lot throughout the day. In order to really understand the impact of this effect on people with mood disorders or certain predispositions, I believe that more research is needed. ”

In the future, Prof. Forster and her research team at City University would like to investigate the role of the body and its representations in our brain in more detail. "Dr. Beatriz Calvo-Merino [co-author of the above mentioned paper], Dr. Ansgar Endress and I recently received funds from the City University Research Competition to research methods to enhance emotional sensitivity in dance. As part of this project, we scientists will work with dancers to develop a new approach to developing the performing arts, ”reports Forster.

Source: City University London