The stares people like face transplant patient Connie Culp deal with are likely the result of instinct rather than insensitivity, Wired reports. Scientists believe that disfigured faces flummox the screening system the brain has developed to judge whether a person poses a potential threat, causing people to become transfixed when they spot a disfigured person.
The brain stores patterns of facial expressions so that a quick glance can tell whether they may be unsafe, explained an expert. But "when a face is distorted, we have no pattern to match that," she said.
(Read more face recognition stories.)