Friday, June 18, 2010

Botox and Emotions

ARLINGTON, VA - JUNE 05:  Recently laid off wo...Botox Injection Image by Getty Images via @daylife
"With the advent of Botox, it is now possible to work with people who have a temporary, reversible paralysis in muscles that are involved in facial expressions," Davis said. "The muscle paralysis allows us to isolate the effects of facial expression and the subsequent sensory feedback to the brain that would follow from other factors, such as intentions relating to one's expressions and motor commands to make an expression.
"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," he added. "It thus allows for a test of whether facial expressions and the sensory feedback from them to the brain can influence our emotions."
From article published in the Journal, Emotions and cited in a UPI article.

I wonder how this will affect mother-child interactions, you know, the whole mirror neuron thing.   In a normal human emotional interaction, we see pain, reflect pain ourselves, the pained reflect it back, we reflect to them, etc.

Botox short circuits the whole system.   For example, in a normal interaction:

1. Child feels pain, contorts face.
2. Mother recognizes pain, contorts face.
3. Child recognizes mother's feeling, and is soothed, and relaxes face.
4. Mother recognizes child's feeling, and is soothed, and relaxes face.
5. Child and mother feel empathy to each other, and share feeling.

Compared to an interaction with Botox:
1. Child feels pain, contorts face.
2. Mother recognizes pain, cannot move face.
3. Child cannot recognize mother's feeling, and continues.
4. Mother recognizes child's feeling, still cannot move face.
5. Child and mother do not connect, and do not share the symbiotic moment.

I wonder how this will impact romantic life... if you can't respond to your partner's facial expressions with your own, how will you share emotions?  One person's face will be moving and the other's will be very still.

You know, some of this kind of reminds me of how individuals with autism can not show the emotions that they feel...  the disconnect between how the senses process information, the limbic system of the brain that processes emotion,  and the motor skills needed to create facial expression and the social consequences. 

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