Gender differences in BOLD activation to face photographs and video vignettes.

Research paper by Jodene Goldenring JG Fine, Margaret M Semrud-Clikeman, David C DC Zhu

Indexed on: 12 May '09Published on: 12 May '09Published in: Behavioural Brain Research


Few neuroimaging studies have reported gender differences in response to human emotions, and those that have examined such differences have utilized face photographs. This study presented not only human face photographs of positive and negative emotions, but also video vignettes of positive and negative social human interactions in an attempt to provide a more ecologically appropriate stimuli paradigm. Ten male and 10 female healthy right-handed young adults were shown positive and negative affective social human faces and video vignettes to elicit gender differences in social/emotional perception. Conservative ROI (region of interest) analysis indicated greater male than female activation to positive affective photos in the anterior cingulate, medial frontal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus and superior temporal gyrus, all in the right hemisphere. No significant ROI gender differences were observed to negative affective photos. Male greater than female activation was seen in ROIs of the left posterior cingulate and the right inferior temporal gyrus to positive social videos. Male greater than female activation occurred in only the left middle temporal ROI for negative social videos. Consistent with previous findings, males were more lateralized than females. Although more activation was observed overall to video compared to photo conditions, males and females appear to process social video stimuli more similarly to one another than they do for photos. This study is a step forward in understanding the social brain with more ecologically valid stimuli that more closely approximates the demands of real-time social and affective processing.