Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study finds male and female brains respond differently to visual stimuli

16.03.2004


The emotion control center of the brain, the amygdala, shows significantly higher levels of activation in males viewing sexual visual stimuli than females viewing the same images, according to a Center for Behavioral Neuroscience study led by Emory University psychologists Stephan Hamann and Kim Wallen. The finding, which appears in the April edition of "Nature Neuroscience," demonstrates how men and women process visual sexual stimuli differently, and it may explain gender variations in reproductive behavior.

The study adds to a growing body of research in animals and humans that indicates the amygdala plays a central role in male sexual behavior, Hamann says.


"This study helps us get closer to understanding the fundamental functions of this area of the brain," Hamann says. In addition to adding to basic neuroscience knowledge, the findings potentially could have applications that could help scientists develop therapeutic measures to help people overcome sexual addictions and other dysfunctions, he says.

In the study, 14 male and 14 female participants viewed several types of sexual and social interaction images for 30 minutes. Their brain activity was then compared using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technology that measures neural firing through changes in blood flow.

The fMRI scans revealed significantly higher levels of activation in the amygdala, which controls emotion and motivation, in the brains of the male subjects compared to the females, despite the fact that both males and females expressed similar subjective assessments of their levels of arousal after viewing the images.

Hamann and Wallen had a separate group pre-select the images to ensure they would be equally arousing to both males and females.

"If males and females found the pictures equally arousing, you would assume they would have similar patterns of brain activation," said Hamann. "But we discovered the male brain seems to process visual sexual cues differently."

The scientists’ discovery also is consistent with an evolutionary theory that natural selection spurred the development of different sexual behaviors in males and females.

"There is an advantage for males in quickly recognizing and responding to receptive females through visual cues," explains Hamann. "This allows them to maximize their mating opportunities, which increases their chances for passing on their genes."

Beverly Cox Clark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.emory.edu/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Young researchers investigate social support in the age of globalization
14.07.2014 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Keeping and developing the skills of older people
24.06.2014 | Universität Stuttgart

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lens on Life” - Artists and Scientists Explore Cell Divison

08.07.2014 | Event News

First International Conference on Consumer Research | ICCR 2014: Early bird deadline July 31, 2014

08.07.2014 | Event News

First evidence for painless atrial fibrillation treatment

04.07.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Siemens installs two offshore platforms for TenneT in the North Sea in July

22.07.2014 | Press release

Hubble traces the halo of a galaxy more accurately than ever before

22.07.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum leap in lasers at Dartmouth brightens future for quantum computing

22.07.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>