(ORDO NEWS) — A recent study showed that Botox injections to the forehead can change the way the brain processes other people‘s emotions.
This may mean that a person’s ability to understand people’s expressions of emotion is temporarily altered due to impaired neuromuscular feedback.
Researchers have suggested that when we see another person’s angry or happy expression, we contract our facial muscles to mimic that same expression. This is an unconscious process.
When our facial muscles mimic another person’s smile or frown, signals are sent to our brains to help us interpret them.
It is believed that this not only helps us to recognize the emotional states of other people, but also to experience them ourselves.
A team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine published the results of a study that examined the feedback hypothesis using Botox injections in a group of 10 female participants aged 33 to 40 years.
The researchers injected women with Botox to induce temporary paralysis in the glabellar muscle (which allows them to frown) and then measured their brain activity by watching the emotions on their faces.
During functional magnetic resonance imaging sessions conducted before the injections and two weeks after the procedure, participants were shown photos of happy and sad faces, as well as neutral expressions.
The researchers found that after injections of Botox, activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions, showed up when seeing happy and angry faces.
They also observed changes in the fusiform gyrus, which helps with object and face recognition.
The results show that preventing the ability to frown with Botox injections interferes with how the brain processes emotional facial expressions.
Botox simply paralyzes muscle movement, which appears to disrupt the modulation of activity between the face, amygdala, and fusiform gyrus.
There have also been other studies on the effects of Botox on the brain’s processing of emotions.
A 2011 study found that people who received Botox injections in the forehead and around the eyes experienced significant disturbances in the perception of emotions compared to others who received only non-feedback procedures.
Another study found that people took longer to read sentences containing emotional language.
Another study showed that the inability to frown can also help patients suffering from depression.
Although the underlying therapeutic mechanism for why this treatment helps relieve symptoms of depression is still unclear, it appears to be a potentially safe and effective means of managing depression.
Of course, more research is needed before scientists can draw any conclusions.
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