A smile can sound and it is contagious

In recent years, scientists are actively studying the relationship between smile and sound. According to some studies, people are able to perceive a smile, not only visually, but also acoustically.
More on this we tell under the cut.
A smile can sound and it is contagious

Photo johnnyknowing / CC

The history of question

One of the first scientists who explored the visual recognition of emotions was Charles Darwin. Neurobiologists from Brown and Melbourne University studied the archives of the famous naturalist and have published in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences article about his "emotional" experiment. According to the publication, Darwin showed his friends pictures of people with different facial expressions.
All the pictures were taken by the neurologist Guillaume Duchen during experiments with contractions of facial muscles. Participants in the experiment correctly determined the emotions in the photographs. Based on this experience Darwin suggested that people of different cultures and nationalities express their emotions with the help of a universal facial expression.
This experiment became the forerunner of modern studies of cross-cultural recognition of facial expressions and pushed to a more extensive study of this topic.
Professor of Psychology at Knox College Francis Makandrew (
? Frank McAndrew
) Conducted a series of studies on facial expressions and non-verbal communication. In an interview for the popular scientific magazine Scientific American he noted that people do not need to learn to smile - this is already a "pre-programmed" behavior. For this reason, sighted and blind children from birth are smiling the same in the same situations.
Scientists from the University of California in San Francisco agree with him. They believe that " mimicry is programmed into our genes ". Psychologists analyzed more than 4 thousand photos of Paralympic and Olympic athletes. It turned out that blind people use the same facial expressions as the sighted. During the medals ceremony, 85% of the silver medalists smiled equally. They used only the muscles of the mouth, but did not involve other muscles, which narrowed their eyes and raised their cheeks.

Smile and sound

A smile does not only change the face of a person, but it can affect how we speak. To this conclusion came the scientists from the University of Portsmouth. They shot a video of the interview, where one group of participants in the experiment answered absurd questions.
Based on the recording, psychologists identified four main types of smiles in talking people. Then they let them listen to their answers to another group of subjects. The listeners correctly defined each type of smile by voice. Thus, people are capable of perceive smile on hearing. Psychologists assume that a smile and other facial expressions affect a person at a subconscious level. It is believed that there are about 50 different types of smiles - from jubilant to sad.
Photo David Stewart CC
Cognitivists from the National Center for Scientific Research of France (CNRS) went on to study the relationship of facial expressions and sound further. The task of the scientists was to understand how people react to the "auditory smile".
That the smile can be is contagious , scientists wrote in the XVIII century. It is known that the motor facial expression, including the genuine " Duchess' s smile. ", Can cause the viewer to have a similar muscular reaction. However, as
notes one of the authors of the study
Pablo Arias (Pablo Arias), until now almost no one has studied how a person reacts, perceiving a smile by ear.
As a result, experiment French researchers found that added to the records of speech, the sound of a smile can make a person reflexively simulate it. In their work, they relied on previous studies on the relationship between voice and facial expressions.
The experiment was conducted in several stages. First, Arias and his colleagues analyzed how the voice of the experiment participants sounded when they smiled and did not smile. Then they developed and patented software that mimicked the acoustic effect of the lips, stretched in a smile. The principle of the program does not depend on the gender of the person, the height of his voice, as well as the speed of speech or its content.
On the faces of 35 participants in the experiment, they put on electrodes and watched the movement of their faces. Hearing the recording, where the program artificially added the sound of a smile, the participants unconsciously included in the work large zygomatic muscles . According to previous studies, such a facial expression is found when people see smiles and repeat them in response.
"These results show that there are similar neural mechanisms for processing both visual and audible components of facial expressions," says Arias.
You can join the experiment on the official page CNRS on the site SoundCloud . There are laid out two records of , which the participants listened to.


The significance of the research

Research in the sphere of interrelation of mimicry and sound can help to understand why people with autism have a disruption in the interpretation of emotions. "We can understand how autistics react to artificially created emotional signals in speech," says French scientist.
The ability of the program to work with different languages ​​may be of interest to companies like Google and Amazon. It will help improve their speech recognition and synthesis systems.
At the moment, cognitivists use the program to study the sounds of anger. The task of scientists in the future is to understand how and why people hear smiles and, possibly, other signals of facial expressions.
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