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Mothers reveal their baby faces

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10:08am, October 6, 2003

Mothers throughout the world talk to their babies using common conventions, such as raising the pitch and exaggerating the emotional tone of their voices. There's now evidence that moms in different cultures also use three distinctive facial expressions to communicate with their infants.

The three maternal expressions differ from adult oriented facial displays of emotion, such as those for happiness, sadness, and surprise, say psychologist Janet F. Werker of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and her coworkers.

Puckering and slightly spreading the lips, often with a slight smile or subtle eyebrow raise, make a facial expression dubbed "oochie" by the scientists. Moms use this look to convey concern and caring, say the scientists propose in the September Infant and Child Development.

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