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Nintendo warns against youngsters playing its upcoming 3-D system

Thanks to computer animation, many science fiction movies and cartoon films have become the trend of the day (Avatar, Matrix, Polar Express). The film directors and animation artists try very hard to make the characters as human and life-like as possible. Yet, many viewers are not satisfied with such computer generated imagery. Thalia Wheatley of Dartmouth College entitled: “How when and where we perceive life in a face”, published in the journal Psychological Science
The mechanism

The second experiment was done two months later, using 29 students from the same participant list. Each of them was asked to view the same images, but to judge whether the face (a) is thinking or planning to do something, (b) is able to feel pain, or (c) has a mind.
Now the results. In the animacy test, most students found the images that had morphed 67per cent human with 33per cent doll face to be just noticeably alive. And pleasantness was only when the faces were 90per cent human and 10per cent doll. The least pleasant was the 100per cent doll face.And in the mind test (plan, pain, mind), the participants' ratings were consistent with the animacy test results. Whether a face had a mind or not correlated well with whether the face was animate (alive) or not.Thus, there appears a ‘tipping point of animacy' around which subtle, perceptual difference determine whether a face has life or not.But whet is it in the face that is perceived as ‘alive' and ‘ mind'? Eyes, nose, mouth, skin?

This was the third experiment. Now, the same 220 images used earlier were ‘cropped' to reveal only one of the features of interest: eyes, nose, mouth or skin. Invariably, it was the eyes that made the volunteers determine where life appears in a face. Next was the mouth, then nose and last, skin.A rainbow is a continuum of wavelengths, yet is seen as seven distinct colours. Third, although eyes are the most informative single feature, other features are used in a holistic fashion to judge a face – the upturned lips, the glower of anger. But, decoding these cues makes sense only in terms of mind, a plan of action. Lastly, we humans are latecomers in this world. Earlier animals seem to have this ability too. The dog is an outstanding example.


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