The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are responsive to emotion. It has been found that an individual’s blood flow is controlled by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, which is beyond the conscious control of the vast majority of individuals. Thus, an individual’s internally experienced emotion can be readily detected by monitoring their blood flow. Internal emotion systems prepare humans to cope with different situations in the environment by adjusting the activations of the autonomic nervous system (ANS); the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems play different roles in emotion regulation with the former regulating up fight-flight reactions whereas the latter serves to regulate down the stress reactions. Basic emotions have distinct ANS signatures. Blood flow in most parts of the face such as eyelids, cheeks and chin is predominantly controlled by the sympathetic vasodilator neurons, whereas blood flowing in the nose and ears is mainly controlled by the sympathetic vasoconstrictor neurons; in contrast, the blood flow in the forehead region is innervated by both sympathetic and parasympathetic vasodilators. Thus, different internal emotional states have differential spatial and temporal activation patterns on the different parts of the face. By obtaining hemoglobin data from the system, facial hemoglobin concentration (HC) changes in various specific facial areas may be extracted. These multidimensional and dynamic arrays of data from an individual are then compared to computational models based on normative data. From such comparisons, reliable statistically based inferences about an individual’s internal emotional states may be made. Because facial hemoglobin activities controlled by the ANS are not readily subject to conscious controls, such activities provide an excellent window into an individual’s genuine innermost emotions.
It has been found that it is possible to isolate hemoglobin concentration (HC) from raw images taken from a traditional digital camera, and to correlate spatial-temporal changes in HC to human emotion. Referring to the diagram above, the re-emission of light from skin is shown. Light travels beneath the skin, and re-emits after travelling through different skin tissues. The re-emitted light may then be captured by optical cameras. The dominant chromophores affecting the re-emitted light are melanin and hemoglobin. Since melanin and hemoglobin have different color signatures, it has been found that it is possible to obtain images mainly reflecting HC under the epidermis as illustrated above (i.e. face on the right).
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