Shades around mouths and eyes let our brains recognise male and female faces

May 28th, 2009 - 11:38 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 28 (ANI): Human brains possess an inherent ability to distinguish male faces from those of females based on facial cues and colouring, according to a Canadian study.

Universite de Montreal researchers and psychology Professor Frederic Gosselin has found that the luminescence of the eyebrow and mouth region plays a key role in rapid gender discrimination.

“As teenagers, dimorphism (systematic difference between sexes) increases in the nose, chin, mouth, jaw, eyes and general shape of faces. Yet we aren’t conscious of how our brain recognizes those differences,” said Nicolas Dupuis-Roy, lead author of the study.

For finding out the reference points, the researchers showed photos of 300 Caucasian faces to some 30 participants.

The subjects were asked to identify gender based on images in which parts of faces were concealed using a technology called Bubbles.

It was found that eyes and mouths, and particularly their subtle shading or luminance, are vital in identifying gender.

While previous studies found that the gap between the eyelid and eyebrow is essential in gender ID, the new study found that the shades of reds and greens around mouths and eyes led to faster gender discrimination.

“Studies have shown that an androgynous face is considered male if the skin complexion is redder, and considered female if the complexion is greener. However, it is the opposite for the mouth. A woman’s mouth is usually redder. Our brain interprets this characteristic as female,” said Dupuis-Roy.

He added: “A man’s face usually reflects less light around the eyebrows. This is because they are usually thicker. The same applies to the upper lip and chin, which are hairier areas.”

He also noted that people clearly use colour to rapidly identify gender.

The study has been published in the Journal of Vision. (ANI)

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