Investigating the influence of biological sex on the behavioral and neural basis of face recognition

K. Suzanne Scherf, Daniel B. Elbich, Natalie V. Motta-Mena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is interest in understanding the influence of biological factors, like sex, on the organization of brain function. We investigated the influence of biological sex on the behavioral and neural basis of face recognition in healthy, young adults. In behavior, there were no sex differences on the male Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT)+ or the female CFMT+ (that we created) and no own-gender bias (OGB) in either group. We evaluated the functional topography of ventral stream organization by measuring the magnitude and functional neural size of 16 individually defined face-, two object-, and two place-related regions bilaterally. There were no sex differences in any of these measures of neural function in any of the regions of interest (ROIs) or in group level comparisons. These findings reveal that men and women have similar category-selective topographic organization in the ventral visual pathway. Next, in a separate task, we measured activation within the 16 face-processing ROIs specifically during recognition of target male and female faces. There were no sex differences in the magnitude of the neural responses in any face-processing region. Furthermore, there was no OGB in the neural responses of either the male or female participants. Our findings suggest that face recognition behavior, including the OGB, is not inherently sexually dimorphic. Face recognition is an essential skill for navigating human social interactions, which is reflected equally in the behavior and neural architecture of men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0104-17.2017
JournaleNeuro
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

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