What if Botox inhibits our ability to develop emotions along with the paralyzed muscles that give us the ability to show facial expressions? Well, a new study suggests just that. USA Today reports that facial expression is key in the process of developing our emotions. "Researchers at Barnard College in New York City found that facial expressions appear to play a role in how your emotions develop, not just in how you display them for others to see." In essence, when the toxin is injected, it not only inhibits the expression in our face by temporarily paralyzing the surrounding muscles, it also inhibits the ability for us to actually feel them. This does pose one positive however, researchers now have the opportunity to study the effects of emotional expression and the sensory feedback it sends to the brain once the Botox is injected. Since the biological existence of expression in the face is not just to display to others your emotions so others can react accordingly (i.e. body language), it actually greatly affects (in some ways) the person who is "feeling" the expression. This makes me wonder if the reverse effect is possible, that is if we decide to smile more, or "express" happiness upon our faces, would we be able to influence our brains to feel happier too?
"In a bigger picture sense, the work fits with common beliefs, such as 'fake it till you make it,'" said study co-author Joshua Davis, a psychology professor at Barnard College. Davis explained that "with Botox, a person can respond otherwise normally to an emotional event, e.g., 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. It thus allows for a test of whether facial expressions and the sensory feedback from them to the brain can influence our emotions."
More and more actors are going under the knife to retain their beauty, and whether or not they are receiving optimal results (we've all seen the epitome of plastic-surgery-gone-wrong Joan Rivers), it seems totally contradictory that people in the acting business would go anywhere near a Botox needle. With so much pressure on Hollywood to look young and beautiful -- regardless of actual age -- how do actors and actresses continue to work on developing the characters they play, and "acting natural" on the big screen, when their ability to express facial emotion is inhibited? In fact, the cases of Botox injections I have seen in person don't really live up to the standards of beauty I believe in. The trade-off between reducing lines and wrinkles and looking flat-out fake just does not seem worth it to me. What do you think?