Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Biology > To Get the Best Look… >
To Get the Best Look at a Person's Face, Look Just Below the Eyes, According to UCSB Researchers

Published: November 26, 2012.
By University of California - Santa Barbara
http://www.ucsb.edu

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. However, to get a real idea of what a person is up to, according to UC Santa Barbara researchers Miguel Eckstein and Matt Peterson, the best place to check is right below the eyes. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These are places within a face (green circles) where, on average, each of 50 participants first looked at when trying to identify faces of famous people. A white circle corresponds …
Left: This side shows predictions of a model which looks at the most informative features in the display for a person identification task (darker red areas at the center of …

"It's pretty fast, it's effortless –– we're not really aware of what we're doing," said Miguel Eckstein, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. Using an eye tracker and more than 100 photos of faces and participants, Eckstein and graduate research assistant Peterson followed the gaze of the experiment's participants to determine where they look in the first crucial moment of identifying a person's identity, gender, and emotional state.

"For the majority of people, the first place we look at is somewhere in the middle, just below the eyes," Eckstein said. One possible reason could be that we are trained from youth to look there, because it's polite in some cultures. Or, because it allows us to figure out where the person's attention is focused.

However, Peterson and Eckstein hypothesize that, despite the ever-so-brief –– 250 millisecond –– glance, the relatively featureless point of focus, and the fact that we're usually unaware that we're doing it, the brain is actually using sophisticated computations to plan an eye movement that ensures the highest accuracy in tasks that are evolutionarily important in determining flight, fight, or love at first sight.

"When you look at a scene, or at a person's face, you're not just using information right in front of you," said Peterson. The place where one's glance is aimed is the place that corresponds to the highest resolution in the eye –– the fovea, a slight depression in the retina at the back of the eye –– while regions surrounding the foveal area –– the periphery –– allow access to less spatial detail.

However, according to Peterson, at a conversational distance, faces tend to span a larger area of the visual field. There is information to be gleaned, not just from the face's eyes, but also from features like the nose or the mouth. But when participants were directed to try to determine the identity, gender, and emotion of people in the photos by looking elsewhere –– the forehead, the mouth, for instance –– they did not perform as well as they would have by looking close to the eyes.

Using a sophisticated algorithm, which mimics the varying spatial detail of human processing across the visual field and integrates all information to make decisions, allowed Peterson and Eckstein to predict what would be the best place within the faces to look for each of these perceptual tasks. They found that these predicted places varied moderately across tasks, and closely corresponded to where humans actually do look.

At least for the three important tasks investigated –– identity, emotion, and gender –– below the eyes is the optimal place to look, say the scientists, because it allows one to read information from as many features of the face as possible.

"What the visual system is adept at doing is taking all those pieces of information from your face and combining them in a statistical manner to make a judgment about whatever task you're doing," said Eckstein. The area around the eyes contains minute bits of important information, which require the high resolution processing close to the fovea, whereas features like the mouth are larger and can be read without a direct gaze.

The study shows that the ability to learn optimal rapid eye movement for evolutionarily important perceptual tasks is inherent in humans; however, say the scientists, it is not necessarily consistent behavior for everybody. Eckstein's lab is currently involved in studying a small subset of people who do not look just below the eyes to identify a person. Other researchers have shown that East Asians, for instance, tend look lower on the face when identifying a person's face.

The research by Peterson and Eckstein has resulted in sophisticated new algorithms to model optimal gaze patterns when looking at faces. The algorithms could potentially be used to provide insight into conditions like schizophrenia and autism, which are associated with uncommon gaze patterns, or prosopagnosia –– an inability to recognize someone by his or her face.



Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


 
All comments are reviewed before being posted. We cannot accept messages that refer a product, or web site.If you are looking for a response to a question please use our another feedback page.
Related »

Visual 
7/24/13 
Face Identification Accuracy Is in the Eye (and Brain) of the Beholder, UCSB Researchers Say
By University of California - Santa Barbara
(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Though humans generally have a tendency to look at a region just below the eyes and above the nose toward the midline when first identifying …
Person 
10/7/13 
★ 

Facial Recognition Is More Accurate in Photos Showing Whole Person
By University of Texas at Dallas
Description 
10/21/11 
Vivid Descriptions of Faces 'Don't Have to Go into Detail'
By University of Strathclyde
Celebrated writers such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot described characters' faces vividly without going into detail about their features, according to a research group led at the University …
Reflection 
12/26/13 
★★ 
Researchers Point to Digital Gains in Human Recognition
By University of York
Human beings are highly efficient at recognising familiar faces, even from very poor quality images. New research led by a psychologist at the University of York is using …
Face 
9/26/14 
Morphed Images of Hollywood Celebrities Reveal How Neurons Make Up Your Mind
By University of Leicester
An international team of scientists, involving Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience and Head of Bioengineering at the University of Leicester, has shown how …
Aging 
3/12/11 
New Technology to Predict Future Appearance
By Concordia University
Montreal, March 11, 2011 – A Concordia graduate student has designed a promising computer program that could serve as a new tool in missing-child investigations and matters of national …
Magic 
5/23/12 
Barrow Researchers Use Magic for Discoveries
By St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
(Phoenix, AZ May 22, 2012) -- Researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center have unveiled how and why the public perceives some magic tricks …
Items 
9/23/14 
Brain Wave May Be Used to Detect What People Have Seen, Recognize
By Association for Psychological Science
Brain activity can be used to tell whether someone recognizes details they encountered in normal, daily life, which may have implications for criminal investigations and use in courtrooms, new …
More » 
 
© Newsline Group  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese Edition