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Gender differences in the processing of disgust- and fear-inducing pictures: an fMRI study

Schienle, AnneCACA; Schäfer, Axel; Stark, Rudolf; Walter, Bertram; Vaitl, Dieter

Brain Imaging

We examined whether males and females differ in the intensity and laterality of their hemodynamic responses towards visual disgust and fear stimuli. Forty-one female, and 51 male subjects viewed disgust-inducing, fear-inducing and neutral pictures in an fMRI block design. Self-report data indicated that the target emotions had been elicited successfully with women responding stronger than men. While viewing the fear pictures, which depicted attacks by humans or animals, men exhibited greater activation in the bilateral amygdala and the left fusiform gyrus than women. This response pattern may reflect greater attention from males to cues of aggression in their environment. Further, the lateralization of brain activation was comparable in the two genders during both aversive picture conditions.

Department of Clinical and Physiological Psychology and Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, University of Giessen, Otto-Behaghel-Str. 10, 35394 Giessen, Germany

CACorresponding author: Anne.Schienle@psychol.uni-giessen.de

Received 7 August 2004; accepted 23 September 2004

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.