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Perception of Facial Features and Face-to-Face Communications in Space  (2000)
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This paper examines how human face-to-face communications may be compromised by exposure to the microgravity environment of space. Although efficient face-to-face communications are acknowledged to be essential for astronauts to work safely and effectively, the space environment causes facial edema, and allows speakers and listeners to confront one another in multiple orientations that can potentially interfere with many important non-linguistic communication cues. In addition, high background noises in space shuttles and stations can mask auditory messages. Currently, the effects of spaceflight on the ability to identify facial features, to read lips, to integrate visual and auditory information, and to interpret spoken messages in noisy environments while the speakers are at various orientations with respect to the listeners, are virtually unknown. Ground-based experiments conducted in our laboratory with computer-displayed facial images presented at various orientations have suggested how non-linguistic cues may be degraded by changes in the retinal orientations of viewed facial images. The results of our ground-based studies illustrating the degraded ability to recognize facial features in images that are viewed in non-upright orientations are described, their implications for effective face-to-face communications among astronauts in space are discussed, and two experiments that can quantify the effects of microgravity on face-to-face communications in space are outlined.
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communications, face perception, spaceflight
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Aviation Space & Environmental Medicine, 2000, Vol. 71, No. 9, Pages A51-A57
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019