The Loh Down On Science

Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes. Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

Fear Factor

by The Loh Down On Science

That look of fear may save your life.

Are you a drama queen? That could save your life!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And on a new study that suggests our facial expressions may actually help us survive.

The idea was first suggested by Charles Darwin. A dozen years after writing "The Origin of Species," Darwin developed the notion that facial expressions are the same across cultures. Even in some animals.

He suggested that expressions serve a biological function, for example: helping us get a good look at an enemy.

But no one ever tested the theory--until now.

Researchers at the University of Toronto made computer-generated faces bearing classic looks: wide-eyed fear, scrunched-up disgust, and squinty-eyed suspicion. They had volunteers mimic the looks, and measured their breathing and vision.

Turns out Darwin was right. Wide-eyed fear improves peripheral vision, speeds eye movement, and increases air flow through the nostrils. This helps us escape from danger!

A look of disgust has the opposite effect. This shuts out substances that might be harmful.

Like the smell of Jovan Musk for Men. Although in that case a girl should squint then run.

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