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Study: Botox may slow emotional communication

Article-Study: Botox may slow emotional communication

Madison, Wis. — Results of a recent study suggest that those who undergo cosmetic Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan) treatment may be risking the ability to communicate emotions through facial expressions, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Past research indicates that facial expressions not only reflect our emotions, but appear to send crucial feedback to the brain — and that without this feedback, one’s ability to understand and be understood might be lessened. Botox is known to block facial nerve impulses.

In the recent study, headed by David Havas, a psychology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 women waiting to receive first-time Botox injections were asked to read a series of 60 sentences on a computer, pressing a key when they understood each sentence. Two weeks later, when the Botox treatment’s paralyzing effect was at its height, the same women took a similar test using a new set of questions.

After treatment, participants were slower to understand sentences conveying sadness or anger than they had been before treatment. According to Havas, the results indicate that our own facial expressions help the brain to make sense of the social world, and that when the face’s ability to provide feedback to the brain is hampered, so is our ability to understand and interpret emotions.

The Times quotes Havas as saying, “Our facial expressions reveal social context by mirroring expressions of those around us, giving us insight into their emotions, states of mind, and future actions,” and that the Botox study suggests that our facial expressions also guide how we interpret language.

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