Happy days: Human brain now registers smiley face emoticon as real facial expression
Cultural use of emoticons has managed to reprogramme people’s brains to respond as if were a real human face, new research has found
The human brain has adapted to react to emoticons in the same way we would to expressions on real human faces, new research suggests.
Having first appeared in the 1980s, the pattern of brain activity triggered by looking at an emoticon smiley face is now the same as when someone sees a real smiling human face, scientists from the school of psychology at Australia's Flinders University in Adelaide said.
"There is no innate neural response to emoticons that babies are born with. Before 1982 there would be no reason that ':-)' would activate face sensitive areas of the cortex but now it does because we've learnt that this represents a face," Dr Owen Churches told ABC News.
"This is an entirely culturally-created neural response. It's really quite amazing."
The smiley face emoticon was first used in a post by Professor Scott E Fahlman to the Carnegie Mellon University computer science general board in 1982, Dr Churches added.
To carry out the research, 20 participants were shown images of real faces, smiley face emoticons, and a meaningless string of characters.
Interestingly, when the series of punctuation used to create a smiley face was reversed to show '(-:', or presented upright, no response was triggered. "Areas of the brain most readily involved in face perception aren't able to process the image as a face," said Churches.
Only when the emoticons were presented in the conventional digital communication manner - as ':-)' was the punctuation read as a smiling face.
"Emoticons are a new form of language that we're producing," Dr Churches said, "And to decode that language we've produced a new pattern of brain activity."
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Harrison Ford plane crash: Actor will make full recovery thanks to 'beautifully executed' landing
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Oxford whistleblower's attempt to protect young victim of a sadistic gang went unheeded
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...