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Botox injections put a crease in emotional evaluations

Freezing the frown muscle slows appraisals of angry, sad sentences

4:43pm, July 2, 2010

Botox treatment to erase unsightly frown lines may cause unforeseen emotional wrinkles. First-time Botox patients become slower at evaluating descriptions of negative emotions, possibly putting the patients at a social disadvantage, a new study indicates.

For more than a century, scientists have posited that facial expressions trigger and intensify relevant feelings, rather than simply advertise what an individual already feels. Botox patients provide a novel line of support for this idea, as well as for the notion that facial expressions activate links between brain regions responsible for emotions and language, says psychology graduate student David Havas of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Botox is short for botulinum toxin-A, a neurotoxic protein that causes temporary muscle paralysis beginning one to three days after an injection and lasting for three to four months.

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