Sex differences in neural activation to facial expressions denoting contempt and disgust

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Paper (help)
Sex differences in neural activation to facial expressions denoting contempt and disgust
Authors: André Aleman, Marte Swart
Citation: PLOS ONE 3 (11): e3622. 2008
Database(s): PubMed (PMID/18985147)
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003622.
PMCID:2572192
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Sex differences in neural activation to facial expressions denoting contempt and disgust reports an functional magnetic resonance imaging study on disgust and contempt.

Contents

[edit] Abstract from the CC-by paper

The facial expression of contempt has been regarded to communicate feelings of moral superiority. Contempt is an emotion that is closely related to disgust, but in contrast to disgust, contempt is inherently interpersonal and hierarchical. The aim of this study was twofold. First, to investigate the hypothesis of preferential amygdala responses to contempt expressions versus disgust. Second, to investigate whether, at a neural level, men would respond stronger to biological signals of interpersonal superiority (e.g., contempt) than women. We performed an experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in which participants watched facial expressions of contempt and disgust in addition to neutral expressions. The faces were presented as distractors in an oddball task in which participants had to react to one target face. Facial expressions of contempt and disgust activated a network of brain regions, including prefrontal areas (superior, middle and medial prefrontal gyrus), anterior cingulate, insula, amygdala, parietal cortex, fusiform gyrus, occipital cortex, putamen and thalamus. Contemptuous faces did not elicit stronger amygdala activation than did disgusted expressions. To limit the number of statistical comparisons, we confined our analyses of sex differences to the frontal and temporal lobes. Men displayed 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. In addition, 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. Thus, our results suggest a neural basis for sex differences in moral sensitivity regarding hierarchy on the one hand and physical purity on the other.

[edit] Subjects

Subject group #1 (help)
Healthy
Subjects/♂/♀: 16 / 8 / 8
Age: 22.5 ±2.5 (–)
Nationality: define nationality
Approval: Institutional ethics board
Databases:

Group 1 of 16 healthy with 8 males and 8 females were included in the study. The group had a mean age of 22.5. The study on the human subjects was approved by the Institutional ethics board.

[edit] Scanning

MRI Scanning (help)
Mode: fMRI
Scanner: Philips 3T
Type: Echoplanar

(TR=1900ms, TE=30ms, FA=?)

Slices: 30 (thickness=3.5mm )
Size: FOV=224mm matrix=64 x 64 resolution=3.5 x 3.5mm
Laboratory: missing laboratory

For fMRI Echoplanar scans were acquired with a 3T Philips scanner..

MRI Scanning (help)
Mode: aMRI
Scanner: Philips 3T
Type:

(TR=?, TE=?, FA=?)

Slices: 160 (thickness=2mm )
Size: matrix=256 x 256 resolution=1 x 1mm
Laboratory: missing laboratory

For aMRI scans were acquired with a 3T Philips scanner..


[edit] Results

Brain images were analyze with Brainvoyager QX 1.7 and spatially normalized to the Talairach atlas.

[edit] Contempt men versus women

Four coordinates in first part of Table 1 [1]

Anatomy
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x
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No. vox
t
z
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1 Left inferior frontal gyrus -45 2 31 71 5.67 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
2 Right medial frontal gyrus 24 35 22 17 5.20 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
3 left -12 26 28 21 4.82 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
4 Left superior temporal gyrus -51 2 1 26 4.98 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
Entry not completed (help)

[edit] Viewing facial expression of disgust by women viewers versus by men viewers

11 coordinates in Table 1 part 2

Anatomy
BA
x
y
z
No. vox
t
z
Coordinate search
Plot
1 Left inferior frontal gyrus -36 17 -14 10 3.46 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
2 Left medial frontal gyrus -12 50 4 14 4.48 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
3 Left middle frontal gyrus -33 8 56 12 4.42 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
4 Right precentral gyrus 36 -28 58 14 4.29 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
5 Right superior frontal gyrus 6 62 28 98 4.64 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
6 Right 18 29 53 48 5.81 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
7 Right superior temporal gyrus 60 -13 -2 13 3.90 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
8 Right parahippocampal gyrus 21 -55 -2 14 6.10 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
9 Left -21 -34 -2 21 4.60 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
10 Right insula 30 -28 13 3.13 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
11 Left -30 -16 25 46 4.06 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
Entry not completed (help)

[edit] Contempt versus disgust, men viewers versus female viewers

12 Coordinates in Table 2 [2]

Anatomy
BA
x
y
z
No. vox
t
z
Coordinate search
Plot
1 Right superior temporal gyrus 62 -9 3 27 4.69 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
2 Right inferior frontal gyrus 43 8 32 64 4.96 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
3 Right middle frontal gyrus 28 1 56 57 4.99 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
4 Right middle frontal gyrus 29 52 19 69 4.93 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
5 Right cingulate gyrus 7 30 26 10 4.38 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
6 Left middle frontal gyrus -13 -9 59 15 5.26 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
7 Left medial frontal gyrus -13 6 55 19 3.72 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
8 Left superior frontal gyrus -15 63 19 24 4.61 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
9 Left precentral gyrus -27 -14 58 23 4.03 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
10 Left middle frontal gyrus -27 42 34 20 6.48 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
11 Left precentral gyrus -40 -12 35 176 5.56 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
12 Left superior temporal gyrus -56 -3 4 27 3.94 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
Entry not completed (help)

[edit] Male: disgust male versus female

Table 3 part one with one coordinate [3]

Anatomy
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x
y
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No. vox
t
z
Coordinate search
Plot
1 Left claustrum/insula -27 17 -4 12 7.05 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
Entry not completed (help)

[edit] Female: contempt male versus female


Anatomy
BA
x
y
z
No. vox
t
z
Coordinate search
Plot
1 Right middle frontal gyrus 28 37 30 13 6.17 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
2 Left insula -47 -23 23 36 8.01 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
3 Right insula 31 19 5 15 6.37 Brede Database Brede Wiki NeuroSynth SumsDB Not available
Entry not completed (help)

[edit] Critique

  1. Uncorrected p-values are used.
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