Quick brain teaser to workout your frontal lobes: Can you read this face?


Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, in dis­cussing the human brain’s frontal lobes in his excel­lent book The Wis­dom Para­dox, high­lights that “exec­u­tive intel­li­gence” includes the abil­i­ty to “pen­e­trate oth­er people’s minds, and that starts with an inter­est in oth­er people’s minds.”

And, what is a good win­dow to “pen­e­trate oth­er people’s minds” and iden­ti­fy oth­er peo­ple’s emotions?

A face.

Psy­chol­o­gist Paul Ekman is well-known for his decades-long research on how to iden­ti­fy emo­tions through facial expres­sions which, some­times con­tro­ver­sial­ly, is being used in affec­tive com­put­ing and oth­er nascent fields. In sum­ma­ry, he found sev­en emo­tions that are expressed in our faces in fair­ly uni­ver­sal­ly con­sis­tent ways:

  • Sur­prise
  • Enjoy­ment
  • Sad­ness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Dis­gust
  • Con­tempt

Here’s a quick brain teas­er to work­out your frontal lobes, based on the image above: From left to right, top then down, what emo­tion does each facial expres­sion sug­gest to you?

Feel free to share your answers with a friend or col­league and see if you agree :-)

Fun fact: As part of his research, Dr. Ekman learned how to con­scious­ly manip­u­late 43 facial mus­cles, includ­ing many that in most of us are beyond our con­trol and even awareness.


To explore more fun brain teasers, puzzles and games and challenge your cognitive ability:

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About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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