Botox might impact ability to empathize

Thanks to a year-old study, it is known that facial freezers such as Botox may not just impair the expression of emotions, but also the actual perception of them. Now, a new study suggests that the wrinkle smoothers might keep you from understanding other people's feelings, too.

According to an article in USA Today, researchers from the University of Southern California and Duke University compared Botox- and Restylane-treated patients to a group that got a muscle-amplifying gel while they were trying to identify people's emotions on computer images.

"People who use Botox are less able to read others' emotions," David Neal, a psychology professor at USC, concluded and told the paper that people try to understand others' emotions partly through mimicking their facial expressions, so "if muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you're less able to read emotions."

"When the facial muscles are dampened, you get worse in emotion perception, and when the facial muscles are amplified, you get better at emotion perception," Neal explained.

In addition to pointing out another serious concern when talking about Botox treatments, the study and its muscle-amplifying gel could also have interesting implications for "people who have trouble reading others' emotions due to developmental issues," as the Jezebel blog points out.

The full study was published in the Social Psychology and Personality Science journal last weekend. Read the USA Today article at http://usat.ly/hv3dkV.

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