Thursday, November 27, 2008

Contempt and disgust - sexual differences in brain responses

Aleman and Swart use fMRI measurements to note (slightly edited clip from the abstract) that:
Men display stronger brain activation than women to facial expressions of contempt in the medial frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, and superior temporal gyrus. Conversely, women showed stronger neural responses than men to facial expressions of disgust. The effect of stimulus sex differed for men versus women. Specifically, women showed stronger responses to male contemptuous faces (as compared to female expressions) in the insula and middle frontal gyrus. Contempt has been conceptualized as signaling perceived moral violations of social hierarchy, whereas disgust would signal violations of physical purity.
They suggest that the results indicate a neural basis for sex differences in moral sensitivity regarding hierarchy on the one hand and physical purity on the other.

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