Synopsis

Ask any person, from any country‚ to make a fearful face and you'll get the same response-eyebrows raised, eyes wide open, flared nostrils. A disgusted face, on the other hand, shows brows furrowed, eyes narrowed, and a tight mouth. The universal nature of certain facial expressions like fear, disgust, and sadness has led evolutionary scientists to wonder if facial expressions play a more fundamental biological role than just conveying emotion. To find out, a team of researchers at the University of Toronto's Affect and Cognition Laboratory recently tested the effects that the faces of fear and disgust have on our ability to intake sensory information. The findings show that the expressions of fear and disgust have not only opposite patterns of muscle movement but also opposite effects on sensory functions.