Botulinum Toxin: Botox May Deaden Emotional Perception
Botulinum Toxin, or Botox, smoothes wrinkles, but a new study finds that it can also decrease a person’s ability to understand the emotions of others.
Botulinum Toxin is a protein made from bacterium used to paralyze muscles in cosmetic and medical procedures. In the past 20 years, Botox injections have become a popular way to prevent wrinkles caused by facial movements, such as frowns.
But since people read emotions partly by mimicking facial expressions, limiting your own actually makes it tougher to read others.
David Neal, professor at University of Southern California led an experiment where a group of 31 women using Botox and the dermal filler Restylane was compared to a group using a gel that amplified muscular signals, which is the opposite of what Botox does. The second group consisted of 56 women and 39 men.
Participants identified emotions by looking at computer images of faces. The Botox group had a hard time identifying emotions while the gel group became better.
"When the facial muscles are dampened, you get worse in emotion perception," Neal wrote in his study, "and when the facial muscles are amplified, you get better at emotional perception."
His findings were recently published in Social Psychology and Personality Science.
Another study published in Emotion found that Botox injections decreased a person’s ability to feel emotions. The Columbia University study compared Botox and Restylane users.
The research done on Botox suggests that "facial expression is an integral component of what we consider our emotional experience," Joshua Davis, lead author of the Columbia University study, told USA Today.