WASHINGTON (TIP): In the ever-expanding contest between artificial intelligence and the ordinary human mind, you can chalk up another one for the computer. Scientists have developed a computer system with sophisticated pattern recognition abilities that performed much better than humans in differentiating between people experiencing genuine pain and people who were just faking it.

In a study published in the journal Current Biology this week, human subjects did no better than chance — about 50% — in correctly judging if a person was feigning pain after seeing videos in which some people were and some were not. The computer was right 85% of the time. Why? The researchers say its pattern recognition abilities successfully spotted distinctive aspects of facial expressions, particularly involving mouth movements, that people generally missed.

“We all know that computers are good at logic processes and they’ve long out-performed humans on things like playing chess,” said Marian Bartlett of the Institute for Neural Computation at the University of California-San Diego, one of the researchers. “But in perceptual processes, computers lag far behind humans and have a lot of trouble with perceptual processes that humans tend to find easy, including speech recognition and visual recognition.