Reduced Emotion Processing Efficiency in Healthy Males Relative to Females.

Correspondence to: Sara L. Weisenbach, Ph.D. Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, 2101 Commonwealth Blvd., Suite C, Telephone 734-936-3180, Fax 734-936-9262. Electronic mail: .
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 5.88). 11/2012; DOI: 10.1093/scan/nss137
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examined sex differences in categorization of facial emotions and in activation of brain regionssupportive of those classifications. In Experiment 1, performance on the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT) was examined among 75 healthy females and 63 healthy males. Females were more accurate in the categorization of fearful expressions relative to males. In Experiment 2, 3T fMRI data were acquired for a separate sample of 21 healthy females and 17 healthy males while performing the FEPT. Activation to neutral facial expressions was subtracted from activation to sad, angry, fearful, and happy facial expressions, respectively. Althoughfemales and males demonstrated activation in some overlapping regions for all emotions, many regions were exclusive to females or to males. For anger,sad, and happy, males displayed a larger extent of activation than did females, and greater height of activation was detected in diffuse cortical and subcorticalregions. For fear, males displayed greater activation than females only in right postcentral gyri. With one exception in females, performance was not associated with activation. Results suggest that females and males process emotions using different neural pathways, and these differences cannot be explained by performance variations.

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