Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Help! My Sad Face is Frozen!

As Judge Judy wrote, beauty is fades, dumb is forever. Not that anyone would suppose injecting an botulism toxin into the face would be the most intelligent beauty regimen, but it is a quick path to pretty without side effects, right? Some studies are showing that the lack of facial expressions have a negative impact on social interaction as it relates to non-verbal communication, but the inability to produce the full range of facial expression may effect the individual's ability to process their own emotions.

The desire to look as young as you feel in a youth-centric culture is adaptive, especially as we are living longer and harder lives. Hydration, eating a diet high in fresh, un-processed foods, getting adaquate but not excessive sun exposure, staying away from toxins (not injecting them directly into a wrinkle) and cultivating your internal happy go a long way in promoting your inner and outer beauty. Oh, and acupuncture helps too!

Botox injections put a crease in emotional evaluations (excerpt)

By Bruce Bower

Two weeks after their first Botox injections, 40 women took an average of about one-quarter of a second longer to read sentences describing angry and sad situations than they did immediately before the procedure, Havas and his colleagues found.

Critically, Botox patients show no decline in the speed with which they read sentences about happy situations, Havas’ team reports in an upcoming Psychological Science.

“These findings suggest that facial expressions are involved in assessing specific emotions or emotional situations,” Havas says.

Havas hypothesizes that Botox-induced paralysis of the frown muscle — which runs across the forehead just above the eyes, allowing it to pull the eyebrows inward and down — may gradually weaken brain circuits that coordinate negative emotions.

A 2009 fMRI study, led by German neurologist Andreas Hennenlotter, supports that idea. Women attempting to mimic images of angry and sad facial expressions displayed weaker activity in emotion-related brain areas two weeks after receiving Botox injections to the frown muscle, Hennenlotter’s group found.

Banishing frown lines with Botox can indeed have social repercussions, remarks psychologist Nicolas Vermeulen of Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Previous studies indicate that mimicry of facial expressions critically aids in understanding others’ emotions, intentions and behaviors, he points out.

“Botox patients who are interacting with others behind a locked face might be at risk to react in the wrong way to, say, an angry driver or an angry customer in a pub,” Vermeulen says.

Read More From Science News

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