Pregnant women have emotion-reading powers
London: It seems pregnancy makes women
better at reading facial expressions, for a study has revealed
that most moms-to-be develop emotion-reading powers -- perhaps
because it makes them hyper-vigilant.
Previous studies suggested that a woman`s ability
to correctly identify fearful or disgusted facial expressions
varies according to her stage of the menstrual cycle, with the
perception heightened on days associated with high levels of
the hormone progesterone.
Now, a team, led by Rebecca Pearson at the University
of Bristol, has carried out the recent study and found a link
between woman`s pregnancy and her emotion-reading powers, the
`New Scientist` reported.
Since levels of progesterone and other hormones
rise dramatically in late pregnancy, researchers investigated
whether the ability to read faces varies during pregnancy.
For their study, the researchers asked 76 pregnant
women to assign one of six emotions to 60 computer-generated
faces before the 14th week of pregnancy, and again after the
Faces expressing happiness and surprise tended to be
correctly assigned at both stages of pregnancy, but for faces
expressing fear, anger and disgust, the accuracy rates were
higher in late pregnancy, the study found.
This may increase the chance that the woman will spot
potential threats to her and her foetus, and prime her to be
hyper-vigilant once she becomes a mother.