Our two faces August 9, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Questions.
Tags: emotions, facial reflection, left side, Lincoln, Questions, right side
When I was working on my last post on the arrest of the Mayor of Fairfax, I pulled a picture of him off the interwebs. As I was looking at it, I noticed that his expression was pretty asymmetrical.
Now I’m not just picking on Scott Silverthorne here, this is often true about a lot of people. We often seem to have two different expressions at the same time, one on each side. But this photo seemed to be a good example. Let’s take a closer look.
When you take an image, and mirror one side or the other to create a whole face you can see this better. Here’s an example where someone has reflected a famous photo of Lincoln:
Wow. Lincoln’s face was so asymmetrical that this looks like two different people. But you can also see that the two sides have slightly different expressions.
So I got out my high-tech image editing software (powerpoint) and tried reflecting the image of Silverthorne to see what I got.
So ignore the different widths of the face, since that’s just an artifact from the way his head was angled.
If you look at the left side of his face, he’s smiling. Not a sincere smile, there’s nothing happy in his eyes. He’s just making a smile with his mouth, like you might do when someone tells you to “say cheese”. Now on the right side of his face, there’s no smile at all. He’s just kind of angrily glowering at the world.
I know that each side of the face is controlled by one side of the brain. So I’m wondering if this effect comes from the two sides actually expressing different emotions, or whether it’s just a random function of the way our facial nerves are wired, or maybe something else? He’s had neck cancer, so it could be nerve damage from that and not emotional at all.
If there’s any neurology expert types out there, can you chime in on why this happens?
As an extra note, as I was looking for images for this post, I found lots of reflections of famous Hollywood types. Like this:
And they were very consistently so symmetrical that there was almost no difference between the original and the reflections. I know facial symmetry is a mark of beauty, but I also expect that the original photos had been doctored with photoshop specifically to eliminate asymmetries.