Facial Expressions and the Brain: How They Impact Our Thoughts, Behaviour and Health
Our facial expressions are one of the most powerful ways we communicate and interact with others. We don’t always realize how much we use them to express our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. But, for many of us, facial expressions are essential tools that enable us to convey our messages, show empathy and build relationships with others.
But what happens in the brain when we’re faced with a facial expression? Studies show that facial expressions can profoundly affect the way we think, how we are perceived by others and even how we manage our health.
The neuroscience behind facial expressions
When confronted with a facial expression, the brain identifies it in a much faster way than language. Scientists now believe that facial expressions can trigger a reaction in the part of the brain that deals with emotions before we’ve even had time to process the expression.
The amygdala, a small almond-shaped area of the brain, is responsible for rapid emotional reactions. It is located close to the visual cortex, which is associated with reading the recognition of faces. This suggested that the region plays a crucial role in facial expressions and emotion processing.
Facial Expressions and Thought
Facial expressions have been found to have a tremendous impact on our thought processes. Researchers have found that when people were shown images of threatening faces, their bodies reacted with a ‘fight or flight’ response, followed by a decrease in cognitive performance.
Studies have also found that people often view happy faces as being more trustworthy. This could suggest that we are more likely to make decisions based on the facial expressions we see.
The Impact on Behaviour
Facial expressions are one of the most powerful ways we communicate and can profoundly affect how we behave. For instance, when we are around someone who is expressing negative emotions, we tend to experience a decrease in enthusiasm.
On the other hand, we can also be positively affected by others’ facial expressions. Studies have shown that when we see someone else expressing joy, it can trigger positive emotions in ourselves and make us more likely to offer assistance.
The Impact on Health
The connection between facial expressions and health is becoming increasingly clear. According to research, the way we use facial expressions can have a crucial role in promoting our physical and mental wellbeing.
For example, if we express negative emotions such as anger or distress, it can weaken our immune system and increase our levels of stress hormones. The good news is that expressing more positive emotions, such as joy and gratitude, can result in improved physical and mental wellbeing.
Facial expressions can be a powerful tool for communication, but their impact goes much deeper. Understanding how facial expressions interact with the brain can help us gain a better insight into our own thoughts, behaviour and health.
Keywords: Facial Expressions, Brain, Thoughts, Behaviour, Health, Neuroscience, Emotions, Amygdala, Visual Cortex, Cognitive Performance, Trustworthiness, Positive Emotions, Joy, Gratitude, Mental Wellbeing, Stress Hormones.