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Faces as releasers of contagious yawning: An approach to face detection using normal human subjects

Abstract

The yawn-evoking potency of variations in a 5-min series of 30 videotaped repetitions of a yawning face were compared with each other and with a series of 30 videotaped smiles to determine the ethological releasing stimulus for the fixed-action pattern of yawning and to understand the more general process of face detection. Animate video images of yawning faces in several axial orientations evoked yawns in more subjects than did featureless or smiling faces, and no single feature, such as a gaping mouth, was necessary to evoke yawns. The yawn recognition mechanism is neither axially specific nor triggered by an isolated facial feature.

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Correspondence to Robert R. Provine.

Additional information

The author acknowledges the assistance of Kimberly Provine and David Nodonly in collecting data, and the editorial comments of Marilyn Demorest. Portions of this paper were reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Toronto, Ontario, Canada in November 1988.

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Provine, R.R. Faces as releasers of contagious yawning: An approach to face detection using normal human subjects. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 27, 211–214 (1989). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03334587

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Keywords

  • Facial Feature
  • Face Detection
  • Normal Human Subject
  • Agnosia
  • Contagious Yawning