The use of Botox is getting very popular, also for younger people. Botox works against wrinkles by relaxing facial muscles, but few people realize that it also profoundly affects our facial expressions.
The way you express yourself with your face is an important part of your individuality. Facial expressions are essential for interpersonal communication, but also for feeling emotions and expressing them.
Will we still understand one another if we can no longer fully utilize our facial expressions in non-verbal communication?
This question is explored by visualizing facial expressions before and after full facial Botox injections. Facial emotion reading software (Artificial Intelligence) helps to objectify the facial expressions.
The software measures the movement in the face and tranlates this into expressed emotions. By watching the moving dot in the circular charts you can read the outcomes.*
See how difficult it is to show surprise when you can’t lift your brows.
* Explanation below
Here you find an example of the expression of disgust in which normally the corners of the mouth are depressed (face on the left side). The muscles that depress the corner of the mouth are treated with botulinum toxin in the face on the right.
Because of the absence of this downward movement the software interprets this facial expression as ‘Neutral’ instead of ‘Disgusted’ in my face after the injections with botulinum toxin (right side).
Here you find an example of the genuine smile (in which normally the muscle around the eye contracts and forms wrinkles).
Because of the paralyzing effect of botulinum toxin (face on the right), the muscles around the eyes cannot contract. It is giving you less wrinkles but also takes away your 'real smile'. A magnification of this remarkably different feature is highlighted in the circles.
Notice that the Artificial Intelligence doesn’t detect the absence of the contraction around the eye; it rates both expressions as equally ‘happy’. In human interpretation, this feature makes a very important difference between a real (genuine) and a ‘fake’ smile*.
*A fake smile (polite smile) is a smile without the contraction of the muscles around the eyes.
What is Botox?
Botox® is a brandname for botulinum toxin. It is a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. It blocks nerve signals to the muscle, preventing the muscle from contracting.
After injection with botulinum toxin it takes a few days for the muscle to relax. The skin above the muscle relaxes and lines smoothes which makes the cosmetic effect to become apparent. The effect lasts 3 to 6 months.
Numbers & Facts
Treatment with botulinum toxin
Which facial muscles were treated before making the research movie? The red dots indicate the injectionpoints*.
*In a regular treatment with botulinum toxin, less muscles are treated.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence with which machines, software and devices independently solve problems. They thereby imitate the mind of man.
Facial emotion reading software is a form of AI.
In order to make facial expressions, you will need muscles to contract in the face. By contracting and working together in different configurations, they can produce a enormous amount of different facial expressions.
The face is the first that we encounter when we meet one another. People are naturally very focused on faces because a face tells a lot about someone's emotions, intentions and judgements.
Everybody has a very personal style of facial expression. Using too much botulinum toxin could take away a bit of this individuality.
Facial feedback mechanism
There is a relationship between our facial expressions and our emotions. Our facial muscles give our brain feedback on what the face expresses. It has been shown by scientific research that smiling does make you feel more happy. The same accounts for frowning. When you frown a lot -maybe unconsciously- you tell your brain that you're in a negative mood.
Mirror neurons in our brain enable us to mimic facial behaviour from the other person that we are interacting with. This mechanism enables us to understand the other better.
You can feel your mirrorneurons working when you watch the video of the facial expressions. Notice how your face unconsciously mimics the facial expressions displayed in the video.