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SCI/TECH: Blind man recognizes the emotions in images of Faces

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posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 09:22 PM
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A man who is 'cortically blind', who cannot see but who's retina themselves are not damaged, is able to correctly identify the emotions on images of faces. Apparently he can't identify shapes, or even 'deadpan' faces. But emotional displays are recognized. Most bizzarely, angry animal faces resulted in no response either.
 



news.bbc.co.uk
The 52-year-old "patient X" suffered two strokes which damaged the brain areas which process visual signals.

Scans showed that when the man looked at faces with emotion, another part of his brain, the amygdala, was activated.when the patient was asked to identify angry or happy human faces, he did so with an accuracy of 59% - significantly higher than would be expected by chance.



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Astounding.He can't see whats going on around him, but information is still being picked up by his eyes and transmitted to, and processed by, the brain. Apparently its the amgydala that is responsible for this visceral response.

Amoung other things that make this interesting are the possibility of finding out what abstract shapes and forms can result in similar responses. Although if animal faces can't result in a reaction then that might not be very likely. It seems that it would be strange that the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for many automated functions and more 'primtive'. I say its strange because one would expect this early(phylogenetically) forming part of the brain should've been well established before human beings were around at all, and I'd think that it would respond in a survival sort of situation, ie to angry animals and such.

On the other hand, perhaps it has this reaction only to members of its own species, meaning that these visceral reaction, ironically, are strongly invovled in social situations.

Related News Links:
origin.www.nature.com
origin.www.nature.c om
origin.www.nature.com




posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 09:53 PM
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This is interesting, but not surprising. The man has brain damage in the area that processes images, but the amygdala, which is undamaged, still processes information coming from the retina. Certainly, it is important from a research standpoint, but I liken this phenomenon to your monitor being on the fritz, but your printer still works. Others can probably come up with a better analogy.



posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 11:12 AM
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Well, its certainly not a paranormal issue. But it isn't that one part of the brain is taking over for another part.


times online
[...]man who had lost his sight after two successive strokes had destroyed his visual cortices, the link between his eyes and the part of the brain involved in vision.
The man, who is not named in the teams report in Nature Neuroscience, can see nothing. His world is dark and he cannot distinguish movement, colours, shapes or even the presence of a bright light


The portion of the brain that processes images normally is fully function, its just not receiving any information. And apparently he doesn't get images in his 'minds eye' that are relveant to the image displayed. Instead there is a portion of his brain that recognizes and identifies images without using images and informs him, non visually, of the emotional state of other people. But you're right, its certainly not paranormal happening or anything like that



posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 07:06 PM
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This is a geat find...thankfully I've got full text access to this so I'll read the actual study this weekend. Until I read a detailed experimental setup, though, I've gotta be a bit skeptical -- it wouldn't surprise me if he's reacting to unconscious emotional cues from the people setting up the experiment or something.

Hopefully, the experiment design is good enough to take care of that possibility...



posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 07:09 PM
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So what happens when you put a smiley face picture infront of that old guy?

Hmm.



posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 07:36 PM
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Originally posted by PerfektLie
So what happens when you put a smiley face picture infront of that old guy?

Hmm.


I doubt he will see anything, because seeing an emotion from a human/animal is much different than seeing it on a monitor.

Surf



posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 07:40 PM
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That old man's pretty smart then, I could hardly tell an expression expressed by an animal.



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