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James Bond: The spy we love

Most of us love to read and watch James Bond novels and movies. This character is depicted as master people and more specifically “mind” reader. He can judge people very quickly and accurately - especially criminals, offenders and their enemies (plenty he has).

"You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face." - Ian Fleming

His success highly depends upon reading a targeted person just by its expressions, gaze, gestures, deportment, para language and movements; making quick and most accurate judgments in given situation; and acting on plans in no time. He is landed in very hostile places with minimal equipments to face deadliest operations (to save the world). Only lethal weapon he has is his brain. Isn’t it?
James Bond: Celebrating 50th anniversary on screen
If James Bond would have ever existed in reality, every intelligence agency on this planet would have tried to recruit him on highest compensation. Ultimately, our world would have become a peaceful place to leave. Sadly, this is only a dream that novelist or fiction writer shows us. Our world is full of threats and desperation posed by anti-socialists, psychopaths, extremists and exploiters and we live upon dream and euphoria hoping someday this secret agent or super spy would manifest and save us from perils.

Actually, every independent nation has its defense system supported by a group of intelligence and counter-intelligence officers though we can’t watch them in a party or round the corner as like the spy we love (wearing costly black suit and glasses) walks and introduces himself saying, “My name is Bond…James Bond!”. In fact, secret agents or spies are not the way they are depicted in movies or TV serials.

Master mind readers

No doubt, secret agents and spies have highest accuracy rates in reading people (and their minds) than ordinary people - about 80% globally. It’s only achieved by rigorous training, mental preparation, improving observation power, understanding behavior, hours of practice and most crucially a hunch that develops or improves over time.

Also, there are many famous TV serials like Lie to Me (Micro expression analyst), The Mentalist (Great observer), Byomkesh Bakshi (Indian version of Sherlock Holmes) and many more having a central character of a crime investigator or detective. Work of these experts is mostly confined to collect samples, analyze photographs, probe video & audio tapes, interrogate & trace suspects and conduct laboratory tests but secret agents or spies are like a moving (and typical “killing”) machines that sense every signal of suspicion and danger given away by persons (and their silhouettes and shadows too), entities and situations.
Sherlock Holmes: Sign of superiority on face!
Being an actual secret agent or spy is all about present mindedness, acute vigilance and situational awareness. Also, agent has to be physical strong, adaptive, agile and enduring. Perhaps, an ordinary looking person that turns out as a secret agent or spy before our eyes is most fascinating because of typical predatory qualities it has - sophistication, secrecy, courage, accuracy, deceptiveness, unexpectedness and extreme speed.

The real James Bond(s)

Ian Fleming
Many of us may not know that Ian Fleming, the maker of James Bond character, was a naval intelligence officer serving for United Kingdom during World War 2. He and his team spied for Allied forces to defeat Germans (Nazis). What he wrote in novels about James Bond, was based on his own life and of those individuals who inspired him. Otherwise, he could not have brought that much realistic effects in his scripts.

He worked with and closely observed many agents putting their lives at risk almost exactly like his super spy character does to change the course of world’s history and politics.
Few of his team members were working as double-agents, spying for both Allied forces and Germans. They succeeded in distracting and deceiving Germans (Nazis) by providing false intelligence updates.

(Courtesy: The million year old super spy hidden right inside us - our unconscious mind.)


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Botox hampers emotional awareness

Botox (Botulinum toxin) is a new magical substance in shelves of today’s cosmetic therapists and beauticians who cater their "youth-maniac" clients. Given “ever-youthful face” fad in modern metropolitan society and corporate work culture, this medicine helps in vanishing facial wrinkles that are caused by natural aging process, severe illness or abnormalities. Like its apparent advantages in an impression driven environment, the beneficiary(?) has to weigh a great setback in its social life. As Botox is administered in small patches of skin to make it look young, it ultimately hampers one’s ability to read emotions in others. How?
Regaining youth or losing emotional ability?
Actually, we all give and get facial feedback unconsciously. It’s not necessary that facial expressions are always noticeable because many a times we try to keep face expressionless. However, unnoticeable muscular activities do occur that can be detected by seasoned eyes or computer software with sophisticated imaging devices. Remarkable purpose of involuntarily muscular movements is detection of emotions in others. Brain understands emotions in other by simulating corresponding muscular movement on face of an observer. Movements might be too tiny to remain unnoticeable by third person or even two persons who are participating in an emotional melodrama.
In future, machines could read human emotions. What about us?
Botox paralyzes muscles that cause wrinkles on facial skin and thus face looks reflated and swollen. However muscular movements are inhibited because Botox interferes with signals that brain sends to facial muscles. Though it gives a person so-called youthful look, lack of muscular movements hampers core abilities of expressing and detecting emotions. A person can find itself as emotionless as if it has been forced to stay poker faced for a long time. A research done by Dr. David Neal (a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California) underlines side effects of Botox on emotional awareness stating clearly, “If muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you’re less able to read emotions.”

Intentional "Poker" Face

Poker Face: Magnificently Dull
Even though many of us don’t get Botox injected, we don’t capitalize facial muscles at fullest. Staying poker for long time is also likely to hamper our ability to read emotions in others. Particularly in a metropolitan environment where large population is forced to use and share limited physical space, we incline to keep our faces almost emotionless while commuting and invading - sharing physical space.

It helps us to isolate ourselves from strangers on social grounds but it might hamper our emotional awareness too. Issue gets multiplied by working conditions where casually interaction with others is almost impossible or not (assumed as) required. Not expressing emotions on face could lead us to social devastation.

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Facial Feedback: World smiles with you!

It's very well said that world smiles with you. We all experience that smiling (irrespective of a genuine or fake smile) faces are more liked that neutral, sad ,or angry faces because smiling makes us feel better. Smiling secretes a hormone called as Endorphin inside brain that generates happy feelings and also reduces level of stress hormone Cortisol and Epinephrine (secretion from Adrenaline gland). Hence smiling at each other generates a positive feedback loop.
Smile enhances your face value.
According to Sir Charles Darwin and Dr. William James’s Facial Feedback theory, we can generate same emotional effect through volunteer movements of facial muscles. As like unconsciously or involuntarily expressions induce feedback in minds of other people, volunteer facial expressions and gestures too can achieve same at a certain degree. Once you generate facial expressions on your face consciously; others are likely to respond in similar ways.
Japanese are trained to smile like westerns.
This theory applies for smiling too and we widely witness it. More you smile at people in appropriate situations; more often you would get similar feedback from them. If you cannot portray a genuine smile, start smiling politely (in other words - fake smiling). Feedback from others in form of smiles, easiness, interest, or comfort displays would lead to positive feelings in your mind. Falling into a loop of initiation and feedback, your mental state starts to change. Sooner or later, you would start to portray a genuine smile unconsciously.

It’s an innate survival mechanism we all have that allows us to connect with each at deeper psychological levels and feel our existence (more meaningful) by seeking feedback from others. We can find trails of feedback principle in many practical and conceptual factors in daily life.

Facial feedback to smile is natural and widely used in commercials. It's not surprise that we find faces in various entities around us or also draw faces on own.

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Learning micro expressions is really useful?

For years, we have been hearing about the importance of micro expressions when it comes to recognizing emotions accurately. Ever since the 70's, Paul Ekman began his groundbreaking research in this area; there has been an intense debate about training and developing an ability to recognize micro expressions. Following several articles published in media emphasizing of micro expression training, there are many other that raised contradictions. Therefore, we now present a very interesting article.
Micro-expressions (Courtesy: Dr. Paul Ekman)
The research was conducted by two professors of social psychology namely Dr. David Matsumoto and Dr. Hwang Sung at the State University of San Francisco, United States of America. Another interesting factor was that the investigation by the university was funded through a grant from the Army Research Institute and the Office of Scientific Research of Air Force. This work is notable because it presents scientific evidence of the effectiveness of training to improve the ability of emotional recognition through micro expressions.

In a first study, several people belonging to sales profession participated in a conference in which they were given basic knowledge on emotional recognition. These people were divided in two groups. One of them received an additional training session 60 minutes by a trainer experienced. This group was compared with the other one that received no additional training. The results showed an ability to recognize micro expressions significantly higher in the group of additional training in comparison with the other group.

This finding was particularly notable for two reasons:

1) Both groups were equivalent in their knowledge of emotions because both received basic information on emotional recognition. However, one group received additional training workshop and other did not.

2) The impact of the training program not only demonstrated in emotion recognition tasks but also produced significant social and communication according to an assessment by third participants two weeks after the program.

The results of the "Study 1" were further reinforced by the results of the "Study 2" that demonstrated the effectiveness of the training program after a period of time after training.

In Study 2, participating lawyers and psychologists split into created two groups. First group received training in recognition of micro expressions and another did not. Three weeks later, a test was conducted for trained group and untrained group for comparison. The trained group was significantly better in emotional recognition than the other. Moreover, they responded to emotions faster i.e. response time (latency).

These findings are important because they show that people can be trained in recognizing micro expressions and also same capacity can be retained over time.


The authors says in their conclusion that that the scientific evidence presented in these studies provided the evidence necessary for those interested in understanding the emotions of their partners. If you interact daily with other people and want to understand them better, training in recognizing micro expressions is a very interesting option to consider.

Undoubtedly, this research was very important in international scientific community.

[This article is translation of original article "Entrenamiento para reconocer emociones a través de las microexpresiones, ¿ayuda o pérdida de tiempo?" written in Spanish (Español) by my friend, associate and nonverbal communication researcher - Prof. Dr. Rafael López Pérez from Universidad Camilo José Cela, Madrid (Spain).]

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1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Micro Expressions 3) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints

Gestures - Are they learned or genetic?

Along with Dr. Paul Ekman's benchmarking work that proved the universality of facial expressions of basic emotions, prevailing behavioral researches in world of psychology are attributed to human nonverbal communication. The strength of the contributions made by of Dr. Ekman left no room for doubt and today no one questions that basic emotions have a universal facial expression pattern that is contained in our genetic makeup.

But what about the gestures we make by hands or head? Are they learned or genetically inherited? Let's find out what a research says.

My approach in this article is taking you attention to a research conducted by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany) that has recently been published by BBC Science.

Group of wild bonobos - Closest primate cousins to humans
According to scientists and as they managed to film on many occasions, several members of primate species called as Bonbons shook their heads from side to side to prevent others to do something they didn’t want. In one of the recordings, a mother shook her head to stop her baby playing with food.

Researchers say that this could be a precursor to t
he behavior of shaking head used by humans observed in one of our closest primate relatives. Chimpanzees seem to shake their heads to avoid behaviors that do not satisfy.

"Our observations are the first to report the use of negative movement of head in bonobos," says Christel Schneider, who led the study. According to his research, the recorded videos in Leipzig Zoo, a chimp mother shook her head in disapproval of playing with food by her baby.

"Ulindi is trying to prevent her daughter, Luiza, keep playing with a piece of leek", explains the researcher. "As Luiza ignored, despite repeated attempts to stop her, Ulindi finally shook his head at the young," he adds.


"No" from Bonbons

It is known that African great apes such as Bonobos (Pan paniscus) and Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), nodding used as negative (tilt or shake) to communicate with other members.

It was already known that bonobos use head shaking to initiate interactions with other members of their group and start playing. However, this is the first study that shows in films that an ape shaking his head in a negative context, to avoid or prevent other bonobo’s behavior.

Scientists based in Germany observed this behavior when the animals were being analyzed as part of a larger study about communication of offspring of the great apes.

With video cameras recorded the gestures and behavior of bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans in six European zoos. During the investigation, they found four bonobos shaking their heads in this way on 13 different occasions. Previously there were only anecdotal reports of chimpanzees shaking his head to indicate "no."

Socially Sophisticated

Scientists believe that the negative head movement is a precursor of the same behavior in humans. Scientists explain that bonobos use a wider range of head gestures than chimpanzees and are considered to be more sophisticated to use their head to indicate any meaning.

The authors say that these sophisticated systems of communication might have arisen because of apparently sophisticated society, tolerant, cooperative and democratic living in these animals where complex social structures and hierarchies diffuse. So perhaps bonbons developed the head nod to say "no" and negotiate conflict situations.

However, researchers are cautious and say they cannot be sure that the animals really want to deny when they shake their heads in this way. But so far this is still the best explanation, they say.

And as he told the BBC Schneider, we must clarify that the head movement is not always associated with something negative. In many countries moving head side to side is symbol of approval too.

[This article is translation of original article "Gestos, ¿aprendidos o genéticos?" written in Spanish (Español) by my friend, associate, and nonverbal communication researcher - Prof. Dr. Rafael López Pérez from Universidad Camilo José Cela, Madrid (Spain).]

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What is Nonverbal Communication?

Term “Nonverbal” itself means “without or in absence of words”. Everything we observe experience and sense through different sensory organs and eventually respond to is nonverbal. Nonverbal Communication is a very vast domain of understanding and interpreting behavior, expressions, conditions and statuses of different entities and also conveying message or responding to them - people, creatures and natural or artificial objects.

Most of us confuse term Body Language with Nonverbal Communication. In fact, Body Language and Nonverbal Communication are two different scientific terminologies but they're also closely related with each other. Perhaps, most of us might have skill or ability to pick body language clues but may not be interpret them precisely through other perspectives of communication.


Body Language is related with social cognition whereas Nonverbal Communication include Vocal (Para Linguistics), Peripheral and Contextual factors according to which human behavior or expressions can be preciously analyzed. Kinesics is the new scientific field related to interpretation of different elements of body language in different practical situations.

Nonverbal Communication broadly includes following factors:
A) Kinesics or Physical: Postures, Body Movements, Body Orientation, Gestures (Emblems, Illustrators and Regulators),
Facial expressions (Macro, Micro and Subtle), Oculesics (Eye contact, gaze and glancing), Pupilometry (Interpretation of Psychological state by measuring pupil size), Haptics (Touch), Proxemics (Interpersonal/Social Distance) and Sympathetic-Parasympathetic Displays
B) Vocal (Para Linguistics): Tone, Pitch, Rhythm, Annotation and also Silence
C) Peripheral: Objects, Attire,
Chromatics (Color), Olfactics (Smell), Thermal and Chemical Signals
D) Contextual: Physical Environment, Social Situation, Culture Norms, Genetic Inheritance  and
Chronemics (Time
)

Without considering context, clustering and congruence (integrity among different nonverbal elements); both understanding and conveying message can lead us to nowhere.


I hope that next time anybody mentions about body language and nonverbal communication, you would definitely understand the difference and also relationship between these two catchwords. Now, you have knowledge and power to explore and understand the “Nonverbal World” around yourself.

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Indian classical dances


Indian classical dance forms are really great not only to watch but also to understand great influence of nonverbal communication in our life. Most people might attribute these dance forms to antiquity and specific to a culture and tradition of certain geographical area or civilization. However, these dance forms portray broad spectrum of emotions and feelings that any individual on this earth probably harbor at unconscious level.

Dancers often enact as mythological story tellers or actual characters of story on stage but they can convey message related to different subjects from real life. They can portray virtually any tangible or intangible entity and concept. They utilize facial (micro) expressions, postures, gestures, emblems, proxemics and movements to enact them very lively and dramatically. Many western performing artists have invented hybrid dance forms by taking an inspiration from Indian Classical Dance forms.

Like different elements of body language, these dance forms also use various elements to express physical, emotional and social status and conditions. Their original names are in Sanskrit language as described in Natya Shashtra - an ancient Indian treatise on the performing arts (theatre, dance and music). Basic elements of all dance forms are: 1) Karanas (Transitional movements or postural alternations) 2) Hastas (Hand gestures) 3) Adavus (Series of movements or expressions) 4) Bhedas (Eye contact, different gazes and neck - head movements).


Dr. Paul Ekman found universality of facial expressions subjected to seven basic emotions in 20th century. But Indian classical dancers have been portraying Nav-Rasas (Nine distinct psychological states or emotions) since more than thousand years. Nine different emotions included in Nav-Rasas are Shringara (Love, Affection or Amour), Hasya (Happiness or Laughter), Karuna (Kind-heartedness or Compassion), Raudra (Anger), Veera (Courage), Bhayanaka (Terror), Bheebhatsya (Disgust), Adbutha (Surprise) and Shantha (Peace or tranquility).


With charismatic costume, jeweleries, accessories, body decoration, make-up and music; each dance form is unique. Yet they are are strongly connected with each through shared aspects like exuberance, sophistication and dedication. Not just Indians or people belonging to oriental cultures but also many notable artists, researcher and scholars across the globe are inspired from classical dance forms of India.

Following are the Indian Classical Dance forms:
  • Kathak - Classical dance from Northern India inheriting few aspects from Persian (Iranian) and Central Asian dance forms
  • Bharatanatyam - Classical dance from Tamil Nadu
  • Kathakali - Classical dance from Kerala
  • Kuchipudi - Classical dance from Andhra Pradesh
  • Manipuri - Classical dance from Manipur
  • Mohiniaattam - Classical dance from Kerala
  • Odissi - Classical dance from Orissa
  • Sattriya - Classical dance from Assam
Watch this YouTube video briefly demonstrating the power of Mudras (Expressions and Gestures) to portray different elements in dance.


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My posture discovery

Posture is most noticeable and loud aspect of body language. Everybody of us adopts and drops different postures almost unconsciously. It’s happens 24 hours of a day and throughout our life. Posture is nothing but an adjustment we make with physical, emotional or social situations at any given moment. We may not express emotions on face, speak, look, or make gestures but we always adopt different postures. It’s a core mechanism of human body. Culture, heredity, age, habits and working conditions - demands have their own impact on postures we adopt.
  
Many of us might be unconsciously or consciously copy posture of their parents, grand parents or persons they follow. Posture speaks to eyes so clearly that we even can judge person’s profession just by looking at normal posture it adopts while working. Look at a vigilant police officer or security guard on duty. He or she must be standing upright, bluffed chest, widened shoulders, looking straight and both hands entangled at back or rested on hips.

A particular posture or manner of moving or positioning body into physical space creates (first) impression and establish an identity of an individual overtime. Watch politicians, leaders, film stars, celebrities, sportsmen, performers and media personalities.

Locked legs
My very interest in different postures draw attention towards a posture that is not  documented anywhere or interpreted I think. I call it as “Locked legs” posture because detail and long term observation has same title for it. Many photographs, paintings and commercials also back my own conclusion of this posture.

While attending meetings, seminars, or queues; many persons sit in very uncomfortable posture. They put on leg on another, extend both hands forward and tightly clasping them on knee. Sometimes, clasped leg is slightly lifted upward. Even lonely individual can be observed doing same. This posture really elevated my curiosity because stretched or tight muscles cannot be a relaxed state. I decided to observe people adopting same posture; including myself.

Even we stay at one place surround by environment or people; we unconsciously justify interest or level of comfort about what we are interacting with. If we feel something interesting and attention worthy, we become more relaxed and receptive towards same. If we feel boredom, disinterest, or discomfort; either we try to get away or keep our senses shut and remain distracted. Many times, we have to manage ourselves at same place without our will e. g. waiting in a long queue inside clinic, being watched by many, listening or watching in social setup and discussing something we want to conclude immediately.

Stretching both hands straight and clasping them on a knee is an unconscious effort to maintain ourselves at same place. We clasp our knees in attempt to sooth body's natural temptation of walking away to avoid boredom, disinterest, or discomfort. Many people can be observed doing same along with swinging upper body (torso) or unclasped leg. Some people especially children or youngsters tap their legs continuously but it's irritating in social situations. Clasping knees by hands is a more mature and civilized way of appearing fairly present.

Why women apply makeup on face?

Around 4000 years ago in Egypt, pyramid workers went on strike for a reason that might sound unbelievable for most of modern population. Those workers went on strike because they were running out of makeup. Yeah! Only a thin layer of cream prepared from herbs, fruit extracts and fat protected their skin under harsh temperature and intense sun rays in desert. In fact, today's skin conditioners, anti-aging creams and sun blocks have almost same ingredients. Thanks to ancient Egyptians to invent makeup!

Due
to invention and expansion of textile industry, we are able cover our skin and body parts to protect them from sun rays, cold weather, rain and snow fall due. We shouldn't need to put on makeup in modern era but modern women spend a lot of money and time on makeup - both at home and beauty parlors. For many husbands in this world, it’s quite irritating to wait for hours for their wives who are busy applying makeup, sitting in front of mirror with bunch of bottles, brushes, tubes and containers. If you ask to your wife, she may not answer that why she applies makeup at first place.

Why women apply makeup on face? For them, it’s not about to protect skin most of time but what men unconsciously like them to look as. Sounds strange at first place? Let’s check that why we all love little kids and what exactly for.

Large eyes, very thin (and almost invisible) eyebrows, thick eyes lashes, silky soft - curly hairs, spotless - evenly toned skin, smooth - full lips and puffy cheeks that turns red after getting emotionally aroused. Isn’t it cute? These facial features are survival gift from our evolution to babies and we all tempt to protect and pamper them because of same. Cuteness of childhood play almost same role in youth for (fecund) women.

Indian bride with makeup
If we closely examine single or group of makeup products, they help to a woman to mimic baby face. Products like foundation, moisturizer and face powder offers spotless, soft and tight skin and also hide uneven counters, pigmentation, wrinkles, dullness and dark spots. They turn most of facial skin into a canvas by which attention of an observer can be drawn to most attractive and appealing features of face – eyes, cheeks and lips. They play very dramatic and nerve sparking role during courtship and romance. Bridal makeup can transform ordinarily looking girl into a queen who woos his groom.

Eye Liner, Kajal (Indian eye liner) and Surma (Middle-Eastern eye liner) draws outlines of eyes to make them look very large and attractive. Plucker and Eyebrow Pencil shape eye brows to look very thin, curvy and dark. Concealer hides wrinkles and dark circles under eyes. Eye Shadower paints area between eye lids and eye eyebrows to look darker to convey state of submission and tranquility during romance (Reference: Paul Ekman). Mascara makes eye lashes more thick, long and curly.

Blusher paints cheeks as if they convey the state of arousal and excitement. Flushed cheeks also convey innocence and shyness during courtship (Reference: Paul Ekman). Lip Liner, Lip Stick and Lip Gloss makes lips more attractive and appealing and also to look big if they are naturally thin and vice a verse. Flushed lips convey vitality of a woman (Reference: David Buss).
Bollywood actresses before and after makeup (Courtesy: msn.com)
What we see is what we likely to believe by most hence makeup does the same. If somebody looks at a woman at first time and from an observable distance, facial makeup compels the person to assume it as her natural look. Applying makeup is all about of creating artificial effect of attractiveness, youth and vitality. Moreover, contrasting colors and shades bring very dramatic effect and thus makes face to look more appealing to an (first time) observer.

(This article doesn’t advocate makeup and publicize makeup products at all. Reader’s discretion is kindly solicited before arriving to any conclusion.)

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Fear Factor

Fear is the fundamental and most ancient element that has driven all creatures on the edge for survival through different physical, psychological, mental and social adaptations. Perhaps, the way all living creatures look and behave today might be an ultimate result of long evolutionary history of continual battles with predators, parasites and environmental challenges. Do include struggle for resources and reproductive partners in those battles.
Wide open eyes let more visual clues pass to brain
Even though we (major human population) no longer live in jungles and being surrounded by wild beasts, insects, worm, serpents and adverse climate; fear still influences and also helps us to survive in modern civilization. In fact, fear prevails in many forms and dimensions in personal - social lives, metaphors, concepts and ideologies. In fact, fear has given us strength to achieve and surpass beyond what other creatures on earth haven’t.

Long before we evolved in present form, fear helped our ancestors prepare themselves for fleeing or
freezing under risky situations. Just Imagine if our hunting ancestors wouldn’t have run away from tiger attacking them in woods, they could not have returned to feed and protect their families at first place. Thus fear serves the supreme purpose of survival in adverse conditions. How brain triggers physiological changes under alarming situations is very interesting to understand.
Facial expressions intensify with increasing risk.
We react to fearful situation almost unconsciously only because of pre-programmed reflex that dates back to millions of years. Limbic System always monitors external parameters influencing survival and triggers fight, flight or freeze responses. It's the major part of our brain having some of very ancient circuits developed by our earliest ancestors living in oceans millions of years ago. Later, reptilian ancestors brought more sophistication in it.

Most recently developed
analytical, planning and reasoning circuitry called as Neocortex (modern brain) that rests on top of limbic system cannot fully interfere with fight, flight or freeze responses in critical situations but it's same limitation serves a great purpose. If our ancestors would have spent more time watching, scaling and evaluating; predators would have wounded, amputated or killed them in a blink of an eye.

Tiger staring at a scared young man in Delhi zoo. Tiger killed him later.
Obtained visual clues follow two routes to their destination triggering actual response; one is from eyes to Amygdale (center of emotional responses) through Thalamus (center of reasoning, learning and language abilities) and Visual Cortex (center of visual information processing) and another is from eyes to amygdale directly. In extreme dangerous situations, brain transfers signals from eyes to amygdale abandoning the process of understanding and analyzing situation.

Shortcut for Survival - Threat signals from Eyes to Amygdale
If brain would spend extra time (few more millionth fractions of a second) to activate an appropriate physical response, a fast moving and agile predator would exploit every opportunity to strike. Moreover, visual memories of deadliest encounters over from millions of years stored in Hippocampus (center of emotional memory) govern quickest reactions even in seemingly lower risk situations today.

Let’s find how what exactly happens in the human body under fearful situation. Parasympathetic Nervous System (one division of Autonomous Nervous System) starts sending signals to different organs through spinal cord. Adrenaline gland starts secreting hormone called as Epinephrine that prepares body to run away. First, it redirects large amount of blood-flow towards large muscles of our body and their supportive systems. Heart beat goes up to supply more blood to various body parts that are responsible to run away and lungs engage themselves in increasing respiration rate for same. Blood flow is re-directed from non-essential to crucial parts of body like legs, stomach and abdominal area that’s why face appears faint (blood less).

Whole body dramatically shifts itself from calm, relax and confident mode to fugitive mode. Shoulders fall down and come closer whereas stomach gets pulled inside. Neck muscles get stiffer and chin drops to avoid damage to more sensitive parts connecting head with torso. Whole body starts sweating due to increase blood flow and excessive heat. Muscles starts trembling due to body being locked at one location because they are initially prepared to run away with great energy generate by cells. Body bends down, clasps itself or takes shed of something. Feet are not firmly grounded and appear to mobilize body away from danger zone or attacker.

Face also synchronizes itself with body to collect maximum visual and auditory information to prepare for running away. Eyebrows tensely get curled downward and come closer on nasal bridge. Gaze becomes more focused and eyes are  opened widely to let more visual clues pass to brain. Mouth is wide opened to let more air pass to lungs. Throat gets dry and saliva’s swallowed frequently to moisten it. Voice trembles and person can hardy speak with usual fluency. Sometimes person tries to calm itself by blocking eyes and ears by hands. Same technique is used by zoo keepers to calm down animals after catching them. Eyes of animal are muffled by cloth to lower the level of anxiety pertaining continuous visual clues being sent to brain.

Comparing to evolutionary history of millions of years, human face evolved quite recently. Due to ability of speech articulation, it has an elaborate musculature compared to our primate cousins. Expressions in lower part of our face (below nose) have evolved to communicate vulnerability to an entire group - to let others know about risk and seek help from them in return. Otherwise, there’s no any obvious purpose of mobilizing muscles in lower face to express fear.

Scream expels when person is under extreme threat so that if anybody is close to the person would take notice of it and rush for an immediate rescue. Another purpose of screaming would be to drive away the attacker or predator by shattering its ear drums with high pitch noise. Sometime hands come close to mouth for muffling or suppressing scream in social situations. Indeed, an elaborate defense mechanism has developed in us over millions of years.