Impact Factor

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 26 January 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00003

Men fear other men most: gender specific brain activations in perceiving threat from dynamic faces and bodies – an fMRI study

Mariska Esther Kret1, Swann Pichon2,3, Julie Grèzes 2 and Beatrice de Gelder4*
  • 1 Cognitive and Affective Neurosciences Laboratory, Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands
  • 2 Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, U960 INSERM, Département d’Etudes Cognitives, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
  • 3 Laboratory for Behavioral Neurology and Imaging of Cognition, Department of Neuroscience, Medical School, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 4 Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA

Gender differences are an important factor regulating our daily interactions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we show that brain areas involved in processing social signals are activated differently by threatening signals send from male and female facial and bodily expressions and that their activation patterns are different for male and female observers. Male participants pay more attention to the female face as shown by increased amygdala activity. But a host of other areas show selective sensitivity for male observers attending to male threatening bodily expressions (extrastriate body area, superior temporal sulcus, fusiform gyrus, pre-supplementary motor area, and premotor cortex). This is the first study investigating gender differences in processing dynamic female and male facial and bodily expressions and it illustrates the importance of gender differences in affective communication.

Keywords: fMRI, emotion, social threat, faces, bodies, gender differences, gender of actor

Citation: Kret ME, Pichon S, Grèzes J and de Gelder B (2011) Men fear other men most: gender specific brain activations in perceiving threat from dynamic faces and bodies – an fMRI study. Front. Psychology 2:3. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00003

Received: 15 September 2010; Accepted: 03 January 2011;
Published online: 26 January 2011.

Edited by:

Marco Tamietto, Tilburg University, Netherlands

Reviewed by:

Pia Rotshtein, University of Birmingham, UK
Matteo Candidi, University La Sapienza, Italy

Copyright: © 2011 Kret, Pichon, Grèzes and de Gelder. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Beatrice de Gelder, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital – Athinoula A. Martinos Center, Building 36, First Street, Room 409, First Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA. e-mail: degelder@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu