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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    • "People experience beauty or ugliness in paintings, music, faces, and even mathematical formulae (Aharon et al., 2001; Ishizu and Zeki, 2011; Zeki et al., 2014). Interest has been growing over the past decade about how neural and cognitive systems generate the esthetic experience (Cela-Conde et al., 2004; Kawabata and Zeki, 2004; Leder et al., 2004; Vartanian and Goel, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Neuroaesthetics has been searching for the neural bases of the subjective experience of beauty. It has been demonstrated that neural activities in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the left primary motor cortex (lPMC) correlate with the subjective experience of beauty. Although beauty and ugliness seem to be semantically and conceptually opposite, it is still unknown whether these two evaluations represent extreme opposites in unitary or bivariate dimensions. In this study, we applied transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to examine whether non-invasive brain stimulation modulates two types of esthetic evaluation; evaluating beauty and ugliness. Participants rated the subjective beauty and ugliness of abstract paintings before and after the application of tDCS. Application of cathodal tDCS over the mPFC with anode electrode over the lPMC, which induced temporal inhibition of neural excitability of the mPFC, led to a decrease in beauty ratings but not ugliness ratings. There were no changes in ratings of both beauty and ugliness when applying anodal tDCS or sham stimulation over the mPFC. Results from our experiment indicate that the mPFC and the lPMC have a causal role in generating the subjective experience of beauty, with beauty and ugliness evaluations constituting two distinct dimensions.
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    • "There is cross-cultural evidence [5] suggesting that perception of facial attractiveness is relatively independent of culture. Generally, attractive faces activate reward centers in the brain [6], they motivate sexual behavior and development of same-sex alliances [7], and they elicit positive treatment in various settings [8]. Therefore, having an attractive face may improve social, psychological, and sexual quality of life. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the current study was to investigate the gender differences in aesthetic rhinoplasty candidates in dimensions of psychopathology. Considering the existing body of literature, it was hypothesized that women would score higher in different dimensions of psychopathology. SCL-90-R was used to evaluate the differences. This instrument consists of 10 subscales which measure depression, anxiety, phobia, hostility, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, interpersonal sensitivity, somatization, paranoid ideation, psychoticism, and added items of psychopathology. Independent t-test between male patients (n = 19) and female patients (n = 32) was performed. Findings indicated that women had higher scores in four subscales. Women had higher scores in anxiety (P < 0.01), obsessive-compulsive symptoms (P < 0.05), depression (P < 0.05), and added items (P < 0.05). Effect size measures were calculated in order for better interpretation of statistical significance tests. Findings supported the notion that women who applied for aesthetic rhinoplasty showed higher scores of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and general psychopathological symptoms. Surgeons can utilize validated psychometric instruments in order to screen psychologically disturbed patients as these patients are more likely to show dissatisfaction after the surgery.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Open Journal of Medical Psychology
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    • "In this sense, the cognitive neuroscience of aesthetics is a scientific quest to understand the neurocognitive and evolutionary underpinnings of the aesthetic experience of a broad range of objects, including, amongst others, appliances and other commonplace objects (Bar &amp; Neta, 2006;Izuma &amp; Adophs, 2013), graphic and industrial design (Reimann et al., 2010), mathematical concepts and proofs (Chatterjee, 2014acf. Hardy, 1940Zeki, Romaya, Benincasa, &amp; Atiyah, 2014), natural visual scenes (Tinio &amp; Leder, 2009), faces (Aharon et al., 2001;Chatterjee, Thomas, Smith, &amp; Aguirre, 2009;Winston, O&apos;Doherty, Kilner, Perrett, &amp; Dolan, 2007), scents, and tastes (Plassmann, O&apos;Doherty, Shiv, &amp; Rangel, 2008;Schifferstein, 2010) in addition to artworks (Cela-Conde et al., 2009;Lacey et al., 2011;Vartanian &amp; Goel, 2004). The emphasis here is on the aesthetic experience of these objects, understood as " emergent states, arising from interactions between sensory–motor, emotion–valuation, and meaning–knowledge neural systems " (Chatterjee &amp; Vartanian, 2014, p. 371) (see next section). "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Perspectives on Psychological Science
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