In Chicago, researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studying brain activation found men and women respond differently to positive and negative stimuli. The study was at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and was covered by Radrounds network.
It was found that men direct more attention to sensory aspects of emotional stimuli and process them in terms of implications for required action. Women direct more attention to the feelings engendered by emotional stimuli,"said Andrzej Urbanik,M.D., PhD., chair of Radiology at Jagiellonian University Hospital in Krakow, Poland."
40 right handed volunteers, 21 men and19 women, between the ages of 18 and 36 were recruited for the study by Dr. Urbanik. All volunteers underwent (fMRI) while looking at pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), a standardized testing system comprised of thousands of slides of various objects and images from ordinary life designed to evoke emotional states. The pictures were displayed in two runs. The first run only negative pictures were shown. The second only positive images were shown.
Viewing the negative images, women showed stronger and more extensive activation in the left thalamus, which relays sensory information to and from the cerebral cortex, including pain and pleasure centers. Men showed more activation in the left insula, which gauges the physiological state of the entire body and generates subjective feeling that can bring about actions. Information from the insula is relayed to other brain structures in decision making.
The brain activation in the women might indicate a stronger involment in the neural circuit. "It is associated with identification of emotional stimuli," Dr. Urbanik said. The pronounced activation of the insular cortex in men can be related to the autonomic componants, like elavated heart rate or increased sweating, that accompany watching emotional material."
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for the body's "fight or flight" response to threatening situations. Viewing positive images, women showed stronger and more extensive activation in the right superior temporal gyrus that is involved in auditory processing and memory. Men showed stronger activation in the bilateral occipital lobes that are associated with visual processing.
Dr. Urbanik believes these differences show that women may analyze positive stimuli in a broader social context and associate the positive pictures with a particular memory. Looking at a picture of a smiling toddler would evoke memories of a woman's own child at this age. Male responses are more perceptual.
"Dr. Urbanik said Positive images are devoured by mens visual and motivational systems."
This was a very interesting and informational study done by using(fMRI) Fuctional Magnectic Resonance Imaging.