Botox Could Make You An Insensitive Jerk

We've already read that Botox may dull people's emotions. Now it turns out the popular face-freezer may hamper users' ability to judge how others are feeling.

According to USA Today, researchers at USC and Duke compared subjects treated with Botox, Restylane, and a special gel that intensifies muscle signals. They showed each group pictures of faces, and asked them to identify the emotions they saw. Those treated with Botox were significantly worse at detecting feelings than their counterparts who got the gel. Study author David Neal says Botox's inhibition of muscle movement is to blame: "if muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you're less able to read emotions." That's because people tend to copy other people's faces as a way of understanding what they're feeling — if you can't do that, you may not be able to empathize. Your friends are going to love that.

The study has a lot of interesting implications — if, as Neal says, "when the facial muscles are amplified, you get better at emotion perception," might the muscle gel help people who have trouble reading others' emotions due to developmental issues? But it also bolsters the case, building for a while now, that freezing your face may not be entirely benign. Botox is explicitly designed to stop the wear and tear on skin caused by having expressions, but those who use it may have to accept that they don't get the benefits of those expressions either. And these benefits may be more wide-ranging than anyone realized.

Botox May Deaden Perception, Study Says [USA Today]

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