Emoticons such as smiley faces are a new language that is changing our brain, according to new Australian research published in the journal Social Neuroscience.
Since emoticons first appeared in the 1980s, they have become an integral part of our communication, especially in text messages and emails.
"Emoticons are a new form of language that we're producing," says researcher, Dr Owen Churches, from the school of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, "and to decode that language we've produced a new pattern of brain activity."
According to Churches, faces are very special from a psychological point of view.
"Most of us pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else," says Churches, who has been studying the neuroscience of face perception for several years.