University of Oulu

G. Zhao, X. Li, Y. Li and M. Pietikäinen, "Facial Micro-Expressions: An Overview," in Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 111, no. 10, pp. 1215-1235, Oct. 2023, doi: 10.1109/JPROC.2023.3275192

Facial micro-expressions : an overview

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Author: Zhao, Guoying1; Li, Xiaobai1; Li, Yante1;
Organizations: 1Center for Machine Vision and Signal Analysis, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-11-01


Micro-expression (ME) is an involuntary, fleeting, and subtle facial expression. It may occur in high-stake situations when people attempt to conceal or suppress their true feelings. Therefore, MEs can provide essential clues to people’s true feelings and have plenty of potential applications, such as national security, clinical diagnosis, and interrogations. In recent years, ME analysis has gained much attention in various fields due to its practical importance, especially automatic ME analysis in computer vision as MEs are difficult to process by naked eyes. In this survey, we provide a comprehensive review of ME development in the field of computer vision, from the ME studies in psychology and early attempts in computer vision to various computational ME analysis methods and future directions. Four main tasks in ME analysis are specifically discussed, including ME spotting, ME recognition, ME action unit detection, and ME generation in terms of the approaches, advance developments, and challenges. Through this survey, readers can understand MEs in both aspects of psychology and computer vision, and apprehend the future research direction in ME analysis.

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Series: Proceedings of the IEEE
ISSN: 0018-9219
ISSN-E: 1558-2256
ISSN-L: 0018-9219
Volume: 111
Issue: 10
Pages: 1215 - 1235
DOI: 10.1109/JPROC.2023.3275192
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work was supported in part by the Academy of Finland for Academy Professor project EmotionAI under Grant 336116 and Grant 345122, in part by the University of Oulu & The Academy of Finland Profi 7 under Grant 352788, and in part by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland for AI Forum project.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 336116
Detailed Information: 336116 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
345122 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2023 The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. For more information, see