Illness Can Be Detected in People’s Faces Even Before They’re Aware They’re Sick, Study Shows

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They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but humans can judge whether another person is sick by looking at a photo for just a few seconds.

That may not sound remarkable — until you consider that the sick people in the photos were in the very early stages of illnesses. They were participants in a scientific experiment and had agreed to be infected with a bacterium that would cause an inflammatory response. Their portraits were taken just two hours after infection.

Those pictures, along with portraits of the same people taken when they were healthy, were flashed in front of dozens of study volunteers in random order. The volunteers had no more than 5 seconds to guess whether the person in the picture was sick or healthy.

In the first series of ratings, 62 volunteers made 2,945 judgments about 32 pictures (of eight men and eight women, each photographed after being injected with an E. coli endotoxin and after being injected with a placebo).

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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