Oct 9, 2020

Smile Facts

“In our research we found that when you forcefully practice smiling, it stimulates the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state,” an artificial cognition expert explains.

“For mental health, this has interesting implications. If we can trick the brain into perceiving stimuli as ‘happy,’ then we can potentially use this mechanism to help boost mental health.” Social smiles use only the mouth muscles. True smiles, known as Duchenne smiles, cause the eyes to twinkle and narrow and the cheeks to rise.

“Spontaneously produced facial expressions of emotion of both congenitally and non-congenitally blind individuals are the same as for sighted individuals in the same emotionally evocative situations.” said study author David Matsumoto, PhD, of San Francisco State University. “We also see that blind athletes manage their expressions in social situations the same way sighted athletes do.”

Seventeen studies provided evidence that blind and sighted spontaneously produce the same pattern of facial expressions, even if some variations can be found, reflecting facial and body movements specific to blindness or differences in intensity and control of emotions in some specific contexts. This suggests that lack of visual experience seems to not have a major impact when this behavior is because blind individuals cannot, from birth or shortly thereafter, see others’ expressions; they cannot learn to produce expressions by modeling.

Results provided evidence that visual experience is not necessary to spontaneously produce adequate facial expressions for basic emotions such as happiness, anger, and fear.

When our brains feel happy, endorphins are produced and neuronal signals are transmitted to your facial muscles to trigger a smile. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins.


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