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Enrico Chiovetto, Cristóbal Curio, Dominik Endres, Martin Giese; Perceptual integration of kinematic components in the recognition of emotional facial expressions. Journal of Vision 2018;18(4):13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.4.13.
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According to a long-standing hypothesis in motor control, complex body motion is organized in terms of movement primitives, reducing massively the dimensionality of the underlying control problems. For body movements, this low-dimensional organization has been convincingly demonstrated by the learning of low-dimensional representations from kinematic and EMG data. In contrast, the effective dimensionality of dynamic facial expressions is unknown, and dominant analysis approaches have been based on heuristically defined facial “action units,” which reflect contributions of individual face muscles. We determined the effective dimensionality of dynamic facial expressions by learning of a low-dimensional model from 11 facial expressions. We found an amazingly low dimensionality with only two movement primitives being sufficient to simulate these dynamic expressions with high accuracy. This low dimensionality is confirmed statistically, by Bayesian model comparison of models with different numbers of primitives, and by a psychophysical experiment that demonstrates that expressions, simulated with only two primitives, are indistinguishable from natural ones. In addition, we find statistically optimal integration of the emotion information specified by these primitives in visual perception. Taken together, our results indicate that facial expressions might be controlled by a very small number of independent control units, permitting very low-dimensional parametrization of the associated facial expression.
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