[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies have provided evidence of a women's better accuracy in interpreting emotional states. Despite this difference is generally ascribed to the primary role of female gender in the affective relation with the offspring, to date, little information is available regarding gender differences in the ability to interpret infant facial expressions. In the present study, we examined the roles of gender and expertise in interpreting infant expression in 34 men and women who differed in their experience with infants. Women showed a significantly higher level of decoding accuracy compared to men. Expertise positively affected facial expressions decoding among women only. Our results suggest that in judging emotional facial expressions of infants, there is an interaction of biological (i.e., gender) and cultural factors that is independent of a woman's socioeconomic status.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current cognitive neuroscience models predict a right-hemispheric dominance for face processing in humans. However, neuroimaging and electromagnetic data in the literature provide conflicting evidence of a right-sided brain asymmetry for decoding the structural properties of faces. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether this inconsistency might be due to gender differences in hemispheric asymmetry.
In this study, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded in 40 healthy, strictly right-handed individuals (20 women and 20 men) while they observed infants' faces expressing a variety of emotions. Early face-sensitive P1 and N1 responses to neutral vs. affective expressions were measured over the occipital/temporal cortices, and the responses were analyzed according to viewer gender. Along with a strong right hemispheric dominance for men, the results showed a lack of asymmetry for face processing in the amplitude of the occipito-temporal N1 response in women to both neutral and affective faces.
Men showed an asymmetric functioning of visual cortex while decoding faces and expressions, whereas women showed a more bilateral functioning. These results indicate the importance of gender effects in the lateralization of the occipito-temporal response during the processing of face identity, structure, familiarity, or affective content.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study sought to determine the influence of gender and parental status on the brain potentials elicited by viewing infant facial expressions. We used ERP recording during a judgement task of infant happy/distressed expression to investigate if viewer gender or parental status affects the visual cortical response at various stages of perceptual processing. ERPs were recorded in 38 adults (male/female, parents/non-parents) during processing of infant facial expressions that varied in valence and intensity. All infants were unfamiliar to viewers. The lateral occipital P110 response was much larger in women than in men, regardless of facial expression, thus indicating a gender difference in early visual processing. The occipitotemporal N160 response provided the first evidence of discrimination of expressions of discomfort and distress and demonstrated a significant gender difference within the parent group, thus suggesting a strong interactive influence of genetic predisposition and parental status on the responsivity of visual brain areas. The N245 component exhibited complete coding of the intensity of facial expression, including positive expressions. At this processing stage the cerebral responses of female and male non-parents were significantly smaller than those of parents and insensitive to differences in the intensity of infant suffering. Smaller P300 amplitudes were elicited in mothers versus fathers, especially with infant expressions of suffering. No major group differences were observed in cerebral responses to happy or comfortable expressions. These findings suggest that mere familiarity with infant faces does not explain group differences.