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Ioannis Delis, Chaona Chen, Rachael E. Jack, Oliver G. B. Garrod, Stefano Panzeri, Philippe G. Schyns; Space-by-time manifold representation of dynamic facial expressions for emotion categorization. Journal of Vision 2016;16(8):14. doi: 10.1167/16.8.14.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Visual categorization is the brain computation that reduces high-dimensional information in the visual environment into a smaller set of meaningful categories. An important problem in visual neuroscience is to identify the visual information that the brain must represent and then use to categorize visual inputs. Here we introduce a new mathematical formalism—termed space-by-time manifold decomposition—that describes this information as a low-dimensional manifold separable in space and time. We use this decomposition to characterize the representations used by observers to categorize the six classic facial expressions of emotion (happy, surprise, fear, disgust, anger, and sad). By means of a Generative Face Grammar, we presented random dynamic facial movements on each experimental trial and used subjective human perception to identify the facial movements that correlate with each emotion category. When the random movements projected onto the categorization manifold region corresponding to one of the emotion categories, observers categorized the stimulus accordingly; otherwise they selected “other.” Using this information, we determined both the Action Unit and temporal components whose linear combinations lead to reliable categorization of each emotion. In a validation experiment, we confirmed the psychological validity of the resulting space-by-time manifold representation. Finally, we demonstrated the importance of temporal sequencing for accurate emotion categorization and identified the temporal dynamics of Action Unit components that cause typical confusions between specific emotions (e.g., fear and surprise) as well as those resolving these confusions.
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