According to new Australian research recently published in the journal Social Neuroscience, Emoticons such as smiley faces are a new language and are beginning to change the way our brains operate. “Emoticons are a new form of language that we’re producing,” says researcher, Dr Owen Churches, from the school of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, “and to decode that language we’ve produced a new pattern of brain activity.”

According to Churches, faces are very special from a psychological point of view. “Most of us pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else,” says Churches, who has been studying the neuroscience of face perception for several years. “We know experimentally that people respond differently to faces than they do to other object categories.” He says when we look at an image of a real face, we recognise the position of the mouth relative to the nose and the eyes, and as a result very specific parts of the brain are activated. When this image is inverted, we get another specific pattern of brain activity. Churches wanted to find out if the same applied when we looked at a smiley face emoticon, which is a stylised representation of a smiling human face. Source: http://www.abc.net.au/

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