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Does Niacin Increase the Likelihood of blushing?

Researcher Daniel Lazaroo

Supervisors Professor Peter Drummond

Date: 11th June, 2010

To investigate whether Niacin would act as a physiological cue for social anxiety and increased blushing, 33 participants from a non-clinical sample were recruited to participate in a double-blind study. Participants received Niacin or a Placebo, and participated in socially embarrassing tasks while Electrodermal activity (EDA) and facial blood flow were recorded. In light of psychological measures indicative of a fear of blushing and subjective self-ratings of embarrassment, anxiety and blushing throughout the experiment, results indicated that Niacin did lead to increased facial blood flow during a socially embarrassing task and that a fear of blushing had an interacting effect with Niacin on facial blood flow. However, increased blushing due to Niacin did not serve as a cue for increased self-ratings of embarrassment, social anxiety or blushing - this may have been due to expectation biases regarding blushing, inherent to the design of the study. Further research in the area, particularly on a clinical sample, is required before the utility of Niacin as a viable tool that clinicians can use to assist in exposure treatments for individuals with a fear of blushing can be established.