What surprises the Mona Lisa? The relative importance of the eyes and eyebrows for detecting surprise in briefly presented face stimuli


The classification image (CI) technique has been used to derive templates for judgements of facial emotion and reveal which facial features inform specific emotional judgements. For example, this method has been used to show that detecting an up- or down-turned mouth is a primary strategy for discriminating happy versus sad expressions. We explored the detection of surprise using CIs, expecting widened eyes, raised eyebrows, and open mouths to be dominant features. We briefly presented a photograph of a female face with a neutral expression embedded in random visual noise, which modulated the appearance of the face on a trial-by-trial basis. In separate sessions, we showed this face with or without eyebrows to test the importance of the raised eyebrow element of surprise. Noise samples were aggregated into CIs based on participant responses. Results show that the eye-region was most informative for detecting surprise. Unless attention was specifically directed to the mouth, we found no effects in the mouth region. The eye effect was stronger when the eyebrows were absent, but the eyebrow region was not itself informative and people did not infer eyebrows when they were missing. A follow-up study was conducted in which participants rated the emotional valence of the neutral images combined with their associated CIs. This verified that CIs for 'surprise' convey surprised expressions, while also showing that CIs for 'not surprise' convey disgust. We conclude that the eye-region is important for the detection of surprise. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.]

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2023.108275
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CCBY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Face perception,Face expression,Classification images,Noise,Emotion,Reverse correlation
Publication ISSN: 1878-5646
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2024 08:17
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2023 08:49
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Related URLs: https://www.sci ... 0998?via%3Dihub (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-10
Published Online Date: 2023-07-08
Accepted Date: 2023-06-02
Submitted Date: 2022-09-14
Authors: Skog, Emil
Qian, C Stella
Parmar, Anisha
Schofield, Andrew J (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-0589-4678)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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