The Mona Lisa syndrome is the name given to the condition of the idiopathic peripheral facial palsy occurring in the third trimester of pregnancy or the postpartum period. Partial motor recovery due to wallerian regeneration and related synkinesis of the facial muscles would explain the enigmatic half smile of the humble ‘Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo’ (Mona Lisa), the woman who was portrayed (after her pregnancy) in the Da Vinci’s masterpiece.
The husband of the woman commissioned the portrait after her pregnancy but Leonardo never delivered it to him. Actually, Leonardo da Vinci worked on this painting for a long time, over many years, after the commission.
For reasons that remain unknown, the idiopathic Bell’s facial palsy is slightly more frequent in pregnant women than in the normal population. I examined some women with this condition who had particularly unaesthetic synkinesis and contractions of facial muscles.
Actually, I saw the Gioconda’s smile only sometimes and only in happy healthy women.
My personal experience seems to agree with the results of a famous study who applied facial recognition technology of basic emotions to the Mona Lisa’s face. The results of that study showed that Mona Lisa’s smile was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, 2 percent angry and less than 1 percent neutral.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
- Alcohol-related syndromes
- Cerebrovascular diseases
- Cognition and Behavior
- Cranial Nerves
- Lewy Body Disease
- Movement disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neurologic mysteries
- Parkinson Disease
- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
- Unilateral Spatial Neglect