The famous smile that the world has come to know as Mona Lisa’s may not be as authentic as we have believed all these years, according to Science Daily.

The revelation comes from a recent study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati who wanted to investigate her expression. To do this, the scientists applied neuroscience principles to the painting whereby her mouth would be cut in half and placed beside a mirror image. The team then asked an assembled group to judge how they perceived what they saw.

The results of this evaluation concluded that Mona Lisa is actually smiling asymmetrically. As noted by the team, upper face muscle activation is not present in the artwork. This is an important piece of information because a genuine smile, which is called Duchenne smile, occurs when a person’s cheeks are raised as the muscles around the eye area contract.

“Our results indicate that happiness is expressed only on the left side,” states the study. When someone exhibits a smile that is asymmetric, it “reflects a non-genuine emotion and is thought to occur when the subject lies."

If Da Vinci had been aware of this particular meaning of an asymmetric grin, the creators of the study speculated that her expression may, in fact, have cryptic messages hidden within. For example, that it was perhaps a self-portrait or that the painting referred to a man or even someone who was deceased.

However, the study noted, “Considering it is unlikely that a person who sits motionless for hours to be painted is able to constantly smile in genuine happiness, the simplest explanation is that the Mona Lisa asymmetric smile is the manifestation of an ‘untrue enjoyment’ in spite of all the efforts that Leonardo’s jesters used to keep his models merry.”

The true meaning of the Mona Lisa’s smile seems to be something that will be up for debate for many years to come, but if you would like to judge it for yourself, the painting is housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris to greet visitors each day.

Mona Lisa The Mona Lisa is considered to be one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s greatest artworks. However, some claim the artist left the painting unfinished. Photo: WikiImages / Pixabay