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Fear-related activity in subgenual anterior cingulate differs between men and women

Butler, Tracy1 CA; Pan, Hong1; Epstein, Jane1; Protopopescu, Xenia1; Tuescher, Oliver1; Goldstein, Martin1; Cloitre, Marylene2; Yang, Yihong5; Phelps, Elizabeth3; Gorman, Jack6; Ledoux, Joseph4; Stern, Emily1; Silbersweig, David1

Brain Imaging

Functional magnetic resonance imaging in association with an instructed fear/anticipatory anxiety paradigm was used to explore sex differences in the human fear response. During anticipation of mild electrodermal stimulation, women, as compared with men, demonstrated increased activity in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and functionally related regions of the insula and brainstem. The subgenual anterior cingulate cortex is a region critical for emotional control implicated in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disease. Present findings suggest a contributory neural substrate for the greater susceptibility of women to anxiety and affective disorders, and emphasize the importance of considering participant sex when designing and interpreting functional neuroimaging studies.

1Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Weill Medical College of Cornell University

2Department of Psychiatry, Child Study Center

3Department of Psychology

4Center for Neural Science, New York University

5MRI Physics Unit, Neuroimaging Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health, Washington, District of Columbia

6Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

CACorresponding Author: tab2006@med.cornell.edu

Received 4 May 2005; accepted 16 May 2005

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.