Have you ever looked at someone smiling and thought to yourself that he/she was not really smiling? Well then, you have the makings of a humor detective!! That's right, people can and do smile for no reason. As a matter of fact a French neurologist, Dr Duchenne conducted several hours of research on the difference between a fake smile and a genuine smile by observing patients who had severe brain trauma or strokes. His findings revealed that two parts of the brain control smiling. Voluntary smiles are controlled by the motor cortex. The types of smiling that is intentional and brings good feelings to your body (receiving gifts, getting an A in a course, etc). Smiles that are spontaneous and the result of some emotion (daughter's wedding, surprise birthday party, etc) are controlled by the cingulate cortex. Patients who had a stroke or a brain injury can appreciate a joke and smile if the cingulate cortex wasn't damaged. Dr Guillaneume Duchenne further defined the differences in smiles. A true genuine smile stimulates the zygomatic major muscle and lifts the corners of the mouth in an upward movement and the muscles around the eyes (the orbicularis oculi) to wrinkle up, also known as crow's feet, by pulling on the cheeks. Dr Duchenne noticed that "fake" smiles or smiles not attached to any specific emotion, engages the zygomatic muscle but not the orbicular oculi muscle. This is why true, voluntary and intentional smiles are referred to as Duchenne Smiles.
To test your ability to spot a fake smile or a Duchenne smile cut and paste the url below and go to the website and take the short but very interesting test on smiles. Return back to my blog and let me know how you did. It's only a test but oh so very powerful!!