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How do we interpret the emotions of others?

Those with facial paralysis can correctly interpret expressions, study shows


 

Facial expressions are important for social interaction and many are universal, enabling people to distinguish the difference between a polite smile, for example, and a real one. Understanding how the brain interprets others’ expressions is important in understanding how social interactions work. But for those who suffer from Moebius syndrome, a rare condition that causes facial paralysis, these interactions can be difficult as they have difficulty mimicking expressions conveyed by others to show sympathy or understanding. In a new study which is the largest yet on this condition, the New York Times reports, experts found that people with the disorder had no trouble recognizing anyone else’s expressions: they did just as well in identifying emotions displayed in photographs of people, even though they couldn’t mimic them. This suggests the brain has other ways to recognize facial expressions, and that people with the condition learn to use them. It these strategies are teachable, experts hope they could help others with social awkwardness due to anxiety, problems like autism, or paralysis due to causes like Bell’s palsy. Moebius syndrome has no known cause, and affects less than one in 100,000 children at birth.

New York Times


 
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How do we interpret the emotions of others?

  1. As a mother of a 4 yr old daughter with Moebius here in Ireland its great that this has been confirmed properly…though i had no doubt that my daughter was able to distinguish between expressions already and is fully aware of what they mean…..great news though!

  2. It seems odd to me to think that they couldn't.. why would being able to "make" an expression have any bearing on whether a person would be able to "interpret" said expression. You put a muzzle on me and I can still understand what other people are saying, I just can't reply properly.

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