A scientist has opined that people subconsciously imitate others to interpret their emotions.
Luigi Trojano of the Second University of Naples, Italy, conducted an experiment amongst patients with locked-in syndrome, who are conscious but unable to move any part of their body except their eyes, which they use to communicate.
He says that this inability causes them to fail at identifying emotions in others.
The team asked seven such patients and 20 healthy people to view pictures of famous actors portraying six basic emotions, such as happiness or fear and identify their emotions, reports New Scientist.
The results indicated that locked-in patients were wrong 57 per cent of the times they viewed fear.
They were also more likely than controls to misidentify anger, sadness and disgust.
Trojano said that the inability to physically imitate facial expressions might be responsible for the deficits in emotion recognition, implying that people subconsciously imitate others to understand their emotions.
The findings are published in The Journal of Neuroscience.