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Botox can affect ability to feel emotion

Holly Enriquez
Monday, June 28, 2010
Image: Nicole Kidman
Botox, popular with Hollywood celebrities may affect our ability to feel emotion

The muscle-paralysing medication Botox might not just prevent the face displaying emotion. According to new US research it may also affect users' ability to feel strong emotions.

According to researchers at Barnard College in New York, facial expressions themselves influence how your emotions develop, not just how you display them, LiveScience.com reported. For example, a smile can make you happy, while a frown can darken your mood.

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In the study, researchers showed people emotionally charged videos, before and after they were injected with Botox or Restylane (a "filler" which doesn't freeze muscle movement).

The Botox group "exhibited an overall significant decrease in the strength of emotional experience," researchers wrote in the June issue of the journal Emotion.

In particular, the Botox group responded less strongly to positive clips after they had the injections than before.

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"With Botox, a person can respond otherwise normally to an emotional event, eg: a sad movie scene, but will have less movement in the facial muscles that have been injected, and therefore less feedback to the brain about such facial expressivity," study co-author Professor Joshua Davis said in a media release.

"It thus allows for a test of whether facial expressions and the sensory feedback from them to the brain can influence our emotions."

The researchers said this study supports the theory that suggests feedback from facial expressions to the brain can influence our mood.

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