Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Rep. 2019 May 29;9(1):8021. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44408-8.

Behavioural and Neural Responses to Facial Disfigurement.

Author information

1
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Goddard Laboratory 3710, Hamilton Walk, 19104, Philadelphia, PA, USA. fhartung@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.
2
Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Goddard Laboratory 3710, Hamilton Walk, 19104, Philadelphia, PA, USA. fhartung@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.
3
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Goddard Laboratory 3710, Hamilton Walk, 19104, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
4
Center for Obesity Research and Education College of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Temple University 1301 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, 19122, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
5
Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Goddard Laboratory 3710, Hamilton Walk, 19104, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Abstract

Faces are among the most salient and relevant visual and social stimuli that humans encounter. Attractive faces are associated with positive character traits and social skills and automatically evoke larger neural responses than faces of average attractiveness in ventral occipito-temporal cortical areas. Little is known about the behavioral and neural responses to disfigured faces. In two experiments, we tested the hypotheses that people harbor a disfigured is bad bias and that ventral visual neural responses, known to be amplified to attractive faces, represent an attentional effect to facial salience rather than to their rewarding properties. In our behavioral study (N = 79), we confirmed the existence of an implicit 'disfigured is bad' bias. In our functional MRI experiment (N = 31), neural responses to photographs of disfigured faces before treatment evoked greater neural responses within ventral occipito-temporal cortex and diminished responses within anterior cingulate cortex. The occipito-temporal activity supports the hypothesis that these areas are sensitive to attentional, rather than reward properties of faces. The relative deactivation in anterior cingulate cortex, informed by our behavioral study, may reflect suppressed empathy and social cognition and indicate evidence of a possible neural mechanism underlying dehumanization.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center