Friday, 5 April 2013

Right brain/left brain

If further proof was needed that the human brain is a fascinating organ, because of the way our brains are organised, there is a slight but discernible difference between the left and right sides of our faces.

Our brains are composed of approximately 100 billion neurons (nerve cells), with 50 billion neurons in each half. However, only approximately 250 million neurons join the two halves, meaning that our left and right brains are mostly unconnected and work separately. One result of this is our faces are unsymmetrical.

Many actors and other famous people (such as David Caruso, pictured) are known for having a 'good side' - preferring to be photographed on one side of their face than the other. Research shows support for the assertion that the different sides of our faces are different and one side is actually considered to be more attractive than the other.

Professors Kelsey Blackburn and James Schirillo from the University of Wake Forest asked undergraduate university psychology students to rate the attractiveness of 20 volunteers who had been photographed on both their left and right sides, about 37 degrees from the centre on each side. Some photographs were untouched, while other photos has been Photoshopped so that they were mirror-reversed so the left side looked like the right and vice versa.

As well as asking them about their preferences, the researchers examined the students' pupils. The size of one's pupil is related to the intensity of our emotional response to stimuli. In general, the students preferred the left face of the both men and women — regardless of whether they were shown the untouched left face, or a left face which had been mirror-reversed to look like a right face. This was regardless of the gender of the person in the photo, and the gender of the person doing the judging. And the pupils of the volunteers opened larger when they rated the faces more attractive.

The echoism app, developed by artist Julian Wolkenstein shows a combined image of two photos of either the left or right side of people's faces, with most of these photos posted on line being very different from the people's actual image. This indicates that 'symmetrical' faces don't look quite right. Judge for yourself whether you think the right or left images are more attractive.

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