Beautiful Faces Have Variable Reward Value: fMRI and Behavioral Evidence.

Motivation and Emotion Neuroscience Center, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02129, USA.
Neuron (Impact Factor: 15.05). 12/2001; 32(3):537-51. DOI: 10.1016/S0896-6273(01)00491-3
Source: PubMed


The brain circuitry processing rewarding and aversive stimuli is hypothesized to be at the core of motivated behavior. In this study, discrete categories of beautiful faces are shown to have differing reward values and to differentially activate reward circuitry in human subjects. In particular, young heterosexual males rate pictures of beautiful males and females as attractive, but exert effort via a keypress procedure only to view pictures of attractive females. Functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T shows that passive viewing of beautiful female faces activates reward circuitry, in particular the nucleus accumbens. An extended set of subcortical and paralimbic reward regions also appear to follow aspects of the keypress rather than the rating procedures, suggesting that reward circuitry function does not include aesthetic assessment.

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    • "Berridge provided evidence suggesting similar neural processes are involved in the wanting of various types of rewards (i.e., approach motivation), including sex. Georgiadis and Kringelbach expanded Berridge's work and provided evidence to show that sexual arousal and behavior follow the same neural principles and phases as those in wanting, liking, and satiety.Inotherwords, when people are consciously processing sexual stimuli the same neural pleasure cycle that is activated for other rewards is activated for sex (see also Aharon et al., 2001; Kampe, Frith, Dolan, & Frith, 2001; O'Doherty et al., 2003). Thus, the neural activation following exposure to sexual cues appears to be associated with positive affect and approach motivation. "
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    • "showed sex differences in brain activation in response to attractive opposite - sex facial images contrasted with less attractive ones ( O ' Doherty et al . , 2003 ; Winston et al . , 2007 ) . Only in male subjects did the medial orbitofrontal cortex ( mOFC ) ( Cloutier et al . , 2008 ) , the ACC ( Winston et al . , 2007 ) , the NAcc and the OFC ( Aharon et al . , 2001 ) show greater response to attractive faces of the opposite sex . The results suggest that it is men who find opposite - sex attractive faces more rewarding , not women ( Wilson and Daly , 2004 ) . However , meta - analysis of 32 functional magnetic resonance imaging ( fMRI ) studies of empathy for pain did not find any evidence for gen"
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    • "Our findings contrast with the suggestion of enhanced memory for faces that elicit stronger affective processing (see e.g., Marzi & Viggiano, 2010) to the extent that this was presumably the case for attractive faces in the present study as well (see ERP findings below). Moreover, our finding is also at variance with predictions derived from sociocognitive accounts of face memory (Hugenberg et al., 2010), which would suggest more accurate recognition of attractive faces resulting from a stronger motivation to view such stimuli (see e. g., Aharon et al., 2001). Alternatively, more accurate memory for unattractive faces may be related to differences in our learning task. "
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