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A distinct neural system for perceiving facial cues of social dominance


, : A distinct neural system for perceiving facial cues of social dominance. Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer & Itinerary Planner : Abstract No 86 6

The neural substrates for recognizing basic facial expressions of emotion have been extensively studied, with each emotion involving partially discrete neural substrates. In particular, recognition of fear and anger facial expressions appears to depend largely on the amygdala and medial frontal cortex, respectively. However, like monkeys, humans express other, more subtle, types of social cues from the face, such as those conveying dominance and submission. We have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural substrates of perceiving dominant and submissive facial cues. Seven normal participants were studied with whole-brain fMRI at 1.5 T while viewing angry, fearful, dominant, submissive and neutral faces. Neuroimaging results for fear and anger relative to neutral faces confirm previous imaging, patient and tensor magnetic stimulation findings of amygdala and medial frontal cortex involvement, respectively. Both dominant and submissive facial cues activated the lingual gyrus and posterior superior temporal gyrus, but not the amygdala or medial frontal cortex. Here we show that neural responses to facial cues of social dominance are distinct from those involved in the perception of facial expressions of emotion.

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