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Brain systems for assessing facial attractiveness

Winston, JS; O'Doherty, J; Kilner, JM; Perrett, DI; Dolan, RJ; (2007) Brain systems for assessing facial attractiveness. NEUROPSYCHOLOGIA , 45 (1) 195 - 206. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.05.009.

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Abstract

Attractiveness is a facial attribute that shapes human affiliative behaviours. In a previous study we reported a linear response to facial attractiveness in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a region involved in reward processing. There are strong theoretical grounds for the hypothesis that coding stimulus reward value also involves the amygdala. The aim of the present investigation is to address whether the amygdala is also sensitive to reward value in faces. indexed as facial attractiveness. We hypothesized that contrary to the linear effects reported previously in OFC, the amygdala would show a non-linear effect of attractiveness by responding to both high and low attractive faces relative to middle attractive faces. Such a non-linear response would explain previous failures to report an amygdala response to attractiveness. Human subjects underwent fMRI while they were presented with faces that varied in facial attractiveness where the task was either to rate faces for facial attractiveness or for age. Consistent with our hypothesis. right amygdala showed a predicted non-linear response profile with greater responses to highly attractive and unattractive faces compared to middle-ranked faces, independent of task. Distinct patterns of activity were seen across different regions of OFC, with some sectors showing linear effects of attractiveness, others exhibiting a non-linear response profile and still others demonstrating activation only during age judgments. Significant effects were also seen in medial prefrontal and paracingulate cortices, posterior OFC, insula, and superior temporal sulcus during explicit attractiveness judgments. The non-linear response profile of the amygdala is consistent with a role in sensing the value of social stimuli, a function that may also involve specific sectors of the OFC. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Brain systems for assessing facial attractiveness
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.05.009
Keywords: amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, reward, face processing, social judgment, EVENT-RELATED FMRI, MEDIAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX, ORBITOFRONTAL CORTEX, HUMAN AMYGDALA, NEURAL REPRESENTATIONS, FUNCTIONAL-ANATOMY, FACE PERCEPTION, RESPONSES, EMOTION, ACTIVATION
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/116264
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