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Shichuan Du, Aleix M. Martinez; The resolution of facial expressions of emotion. Journal of Vision 2011;11(13):24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.13.24.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Much is known on how facial expressions of emotion are produced, including which individual muscles are most active in each expression. Yet, little is known on how this information is interpreted by the human visual system. This paper presents a systematic study of the image dimensionality of facial expressions of emotion. In particular, we investigate how recognition degrades when the resolution of the image (i.e., number of pixels when seen as a 5.3 by 8 degree stimulus) is reduced. We show that recognition is only impaired in practice when the image resolution goes below 20 × 30 pixels. A study of the confusion tables demonstrates that each expression of emotion is consistently confused by a small set of alternatives and that the confusion is not symmetric, i.e., misclassifying emotion a as b does not imply we will mistake b for a. This asymmetric pattern is consistent over the different image resolutions and cannot be explained by the similarity of muscle activation. Furthermore, although women are generally better at recognizing expressions of emotion at all resolutions, the asymmetry patterns are the same. We discuss the implications of these results for current models of face perception.
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