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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on September 29, 2010 

A new study finds that stressed men have diminished activity in brain regions responsible for understanding others’ feelings.

In the investigation, researchers had men look at angry faces. The results suggest the silent and stoic response to stress might be a “guy thing” after all.

“These are the first findings to indicate that sex differences in the effects of stress on social behavior extend to one of the most basic social transactions — processing someone else’s facial expression,” said Mara Mather, director of the Emotion and Cognition Lab at USC.

In an article appearing in the journal NeuroReport, Mather and her coauthors present a series of tests indicating that, under acute stress, men had less brain response to facial expressions, in particular, fear and anger.

In both men and women, looking at pictures of faces caused activity in the part of the brain used in basic visual processing (the “fusiform face area”) and in parts of the brain used for interpreting and understanding facial expressions.

However, men under acute stress showed decreased activity not only in the fusiform face area but also decreased coordination among parts of the brain that help us interpret what emotions these faces are conveying.

In a marked sex difference, women under stress showed the opposite — women under stress had increased activity in the fusiform face area and increased coordination among the regions of the brain used in interpreting facial emotions compared to the control group.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/09/29/men-respond-to-stress-by-shutting-down/18890.html



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