2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Electroencephalogram analysis by Colombian psychologists has shown that the brain reacts to emoji in much the same way as it does to a person's face during a conversation or in a photograph, according to an article published in Behavior & Information Technology.
To study the perception of human faces using EEG methods, scientists usually focus on three evoked potentials (the electrical response of the brain to an external stimulus): the positive component P100 (the peak of activity is observed 100 milliseconds after the presentation of the stimulus), the negative component N170 (with the peak of activity after 170 milliseconds), as well as the so-called late positive potential (LPP, - with a peak in the interval from 300 to 700 milliseconds). These potentials are responsible for all stages of face recognition: immediate visual stimulus processing (P100), facial recognition (N170) and subsequent facial expression recognition (LPP).
A lot is known about how the individual components of these evoked potentials are activated during personal communication or simply looking at faces. At the same time, there is still little information about how these same potentials are involved in the processing of digital sketchy images of faces, for example, emoji. Psychologists from the University of San Buenaventura (Bogota, Colombia), led by Carlos Gantiva, decided to figure this out.
To do this, they conducted an EEG experiment with the participation of 30 people (average age - 21 years), who actively use instant messengers and social networks: that is, they see and use emoji in everyday communication. Participants were given 48 images of faces with joyful, angry and neutral expressions: both human and emoji. The researchers also used a questionnaire that assessed the participants' pleasure from viewing stimuli.
The researchers found that the participants' evoked brain potentials in response to facial and emoji processing were broadly similar. At the same time, differences were also observed: the amplitude of P100 and LPP was higher for human faces, while when processing emoji, an increased amplitude of N170 was observed. In terms of subjective metrics, which were assessed using the survey, participants found the emoji more enjoyable (p = 0.002).
Amplitude and Topography of P100 Evoked Potential in Human Face and Emoji Processing
Amplitude and Topography of N170 Evoked Potential in Human Face and Emoji Processing
Amplitude and Topography of LPP Evoked Potential in Human Face and Emoji Processing
The increased P100 amplitude in response to human faces indicates that they attract more attention in the early stages of processing, while the increased N170 amplitude in emoji processing is due to the fact that the facial expressions depicted on the drawn face are much more emphasized than the human. Finally, the increased LPP amplitude in the later stages of processing also suggests that human faces are getting more attention: possibly due to the relatively complex processing of additional facial features.
The authors of the work concluded that the brain processing of human faces and emoji is similar for any emotion: it is possible, therefore, to conclude that the use of emoji in correspondence for people is similar to face-to-face communication and is really aimed at expressing or evaluating the emotions of the interlocutor.
International Emoji Day is celebrated on July 17th, which is the date on the calendar emoji. Last year, in honor of the holiday, we released a test in which we invited our readers to try to translate emoji from language into Russian, and whether it is possible to communicate with these icons, we asked the Russian linguist Maxim Krongauz.