Study: Botox Injections Alter Brain Activity in Response to Facial Expressions

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Thursday, April 13, 2023

Vial and syringe

A recent study finds botox injections, which many people use on their face to look younger, can make it harder to recognize emotions.

Scientists warn that jabs in the forehead alter the way people’s brains respond to faces, making it more difficult to read expressions and mimic a smile or a frown. Botox works by paralyzing muscles. The finding could have implications for couples and even friendships, leaving people unable to properly recognize and express emotions.

“Normally, when we see expressions, we unconsciously mimic them to help us recognize them,” says lead author Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos from the University of South Australia, according to a statement from SWNS per New Scientist.

An international team scanned the brains of 10 women between the ages of 33 and 40 before they had injections of botulinum toxin (botox) and again two to three weeks later. Participants ended up being unable to frown or smile with their whole faces.

During fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans, the team looked at photos of angry and happy faces interspersed with neutral images. After receiving botox, volunteers displayed altered activity in the amygdala when looking at angry and happy faces, and in the fusiform gyrus when looking at happy ones.

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