The Golden Ratio of Our Brain

Ever hear the saying “attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder”?  Well, research suggests that that’s not really the case.  Why is it that most of us find similar things attractive from nature to the attractiveness of the human face?

Brain Games, hosted by Jason Silva, is a show the delves into the intricate workings of the human brain via very interesting and informing interactive experiments.  In a recent episode they tackle the attractiveness of the human face.  What your brain considers attractive is determined by a surprisingly narrow formula.”  They had individuals rank a group of 5 pictures from most attractive to least attractive, but the participants only had 10 seconds to do so. they ranked both female and male faces.

Why do we generally concur on the attractiveness of a face? This is due to a region of the brain that is completely dedicated to recognizing faces -the Fusiform Gyrus.  This region quickly identifies a few features and categorizes them as a “face” and sends that information to other areas of the brain for further processing.  As our Human brains work in the same way, we process the attractiveness of facial features the same as well.

The interesting finding is that the brain doesn’t find individual features attractive or even the face in its entirety. What the brain finds attractive is the formula that makes up the dimensions of a particular face. Our brains are drawn to a very specific measurement called “the golden ratio”.

This Golden Ratio is a naturally occurring set of proportions, which can be found in everything such as nature and architecture as well as the human face.  The Golden Ratio for the human face is 1.5 times as long as it is wide.   This  can also be applied to the distance of all facial features.  To learn more about the Golden Ratio watch the video below (2:58-8:00).

Another article, from Science Network,  notes that the ability to recognize expressions is tied to listening.  Australian researchers developed two new tests that examine a typical person’s ability to recognize basic facial expressions. The study published in  PLOS ONE, highlights how the skill to accurately read other people’s faces is fundamental to social interactions.

Lead author and professor Romina Palermo says this suggests there is an initial stage of high-level facial processing that is common to both face identity and face emotion processing, [These findings] suggests that there is a system that processes emotion from all types of input, not just faces and…that the ability to recognise facial expression is related to the ability to recognize facial identity.

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