Looking at a person’s face triggered different brain activity than looking at other objects

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists in Germany and the US have learned that viewing images of human faces triggers a different response in our brains than viewing other visual stimuli. Researchers attribute this effect to the natural sociality of a person.

Many do not know, but our eyes constantly make fast, strictly coordinated movements that occur simultaneously and in the same direction – saccades.

On the electrooculogram, they look like vertical straight lines. When we make such movements, the brain receives “input data”, and depending on them, its activity can be completely different. This has consequences at the neural level.

Scientists from Ludwig-Maximilian Universities (Germany), Columbia Universities, Arizona and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (USA) conducted an experiment involving 13 patients with epilepsy who had electrodes implanted in their brains to monitor their condition. The researchers presented their findings in the journal Science Advances.

Participants viewed a series of pictures displayed on a monitor screen. They featured a variety of subjects, including pictures of human faces, monkey faces, flowers, fruits, cars, and more.

As they looked at the pictures, a special camera tracked their eye movements, and electrodes in the brain monitored neural activity in the amygdala and hippocampus, parts of the gray matter involved in memory processing, emotion regulation, and other functions.

When the participants looked at human faces, neurons synchronized between the amygdala and the hippocampus in a pattern that was different from that which occurred in response to viewing all other visual stimuli . Based on this, scientists concluded that our brain processes social objects (people’s faces) differently than non-social ones.

“The face is one of the most important objects we look at. We make so many important decisions based on the facial expression of another person. Including, for example, we decide whether we can trust him or not, ”summed up one of the authors of the study, Ueli Rutishauser from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.


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