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Microexpressions and Memorization

I recently spent some time studying microexpressions. The theory is that most humans, including some of the best liars and manipulators, briefly signal their true emotions via expressions that last only fractions of second. These microexpressions are involuntary.

My interest in this was triggered by a special on the human brain I saw on a cable channel. Supposedly, and I wonder about this, Secret Service agents scored the best as human lie detectors, while psychiatrists and other mental health professionals did no better than random college freshmen. ( Paul Ekman has written several texts on this, as well has hosting a BBC special on the human face.

Here is the "autism" connection:

If I can study and memorize body language, with at least some success, why not teach microexpressions to individuals with high-functioning autism?

After a few days, I was scoring over 50% on simple microexpression tests. These are simple tests, of course, using videos of faces and asking the viewer to select from a range of emotions. The ability to recognize emotions visually is worth some study and review, at least in my experience.

I might never be "normal" in terms of evaluating non-verbal cues, but memorization seems to be working pretty well. In fact, I wonder if the fact I am analyzing and memorizing might not actually make me a better "reader" of human emotions over time.

If nothing else, the notion of teaching facial expressions deserves some thought.


  1. A very late comment, but more recent Paul Ekman related research is strongly suggesting the the ability to encode and decode micro expressions is inborn...

    Supposing, just supposing, that ia ALL autism really consists of, and absence of innate ability to read or write microexpressions? ...and everything else is either a coping mechanism or originates in our individual adaptation to the very different environment that deficit places us in, deviating further from the norm with every day that passes?

    Supposing, just supposing, that all it would take, not to "cure" but rather to "fix us up", perhaps even the low functioning non-verbals, would be training in microexpressions?

    Of course it would never become innate, but that is not necessarily a disadvantage, after all, we would be learning to "read" that language without any unconscious relex to "write" it in return?

    So, anyway, how have you fared with this since?

  2. The more I have memorized, the better. I am always looking for new information on interactions, so I read a great deal of non-fiction. While I find I don't care for many of the rhetorical "tricks" employed, identifying and using some is important.

  3. I've been pondering the same idea myself, prompted by my devotion to the TV show Lie To Me. I've also been wondering about my poor scores in facial recognition, how much it is due simply to the inability to examine or look directly at a person's face.

  4. I'm an unusual Aspie because I'm really very good at facial recognition, and also at reading expressions. I believe that I learned to interpret expressions out of necessity, because my mother had a very quick temper and one had to watch out for the "tells" that she was about to become violent or verbally abusive. I always was attentive to such details, but I also enjoy watching "Lie To Me" because the character has supposedly made a science of it and wrote a book on the subject of detecting deception, and emotions in general. Always interesting.

    I know that I slowly and deliberately learned to hide my own expressions, keep a poker face, because I assumed that others could read my expressions as easily as I could read theirs. Some people are better than others at doing that. I believe that it's a subject that is teachable, and like anything else, takes practice.

  5. I am a high functioning Autist (174IQ)
    I use the analysis of micro expressions to understand what another person is thinking and feeling. I am extremely accurate, and can often interpret complex motivations and life experiences from the study of a moving face.
    It took me a long time to figure it out, I didn't get started until my early 20's was in my mid 30s before I was really good at it., and i really wish that this was taught in schools. It would have helped immensely .


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