Gender-selective neural populations: evidence from event-related fMRI repetition suppression
Podrebarac, SK, Goodale, MA, van der Zwan, R & Snow, JC 2013, 'Gender-selective neural populations: evidence from event-related fMRI repetition suppression', Experimental Brain Research, vol. 226, no. 2, pp. 241-252.
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Accurate recognition of gender in another individual is integral to successful human social interaction and to mate selection. When we encounter another person, we are effortlessly able to identify their gender, most often through the information conveyed by their facial features. Faces comprise the most abundantly encountered cue used to classify human gender. Considering the importance of facial information in gender perception, relatively little is known about the mechanisms involved in perceiving gender through human facial cues. We used an event-related fMRI repetition suppression paradigm to explore the neural circuitry underlying gender perception from facial information. Participants viewed brief consecutive images consisting of either gender-same face pairings (two male faces or two female faces) or images of gender-different face pairings (a male face preceded or followed by a female face), while attending to facial attractiveness in both conditions. Using a region-of-interest approach, we found repetition suppression on gender-same trials within the left ventral temporal fusiform gyrus and in the right collateral sulcus. Whole-brain voxel-wise analyses revealed selectivity for face gender again in the right collateral sulcus, in addition to the left cuneus and the right lateral occipital gyrus. Our results indicate that in addition to the face-selective FFA, cortical areas that are not traditionally considered to be “face-selective” are involved in the perception of gender-based facial cues.