Gender Differences in Engaging with Negative Stimuli during Emotion Regulation and Processing Tasks related to Personality/Affective Style
Teodora Stoica1, Lindsay Knight1, Naaz Farah1, Depue Brendan1; 1University of Louisville
Gender differences in emotional processes represent some of the most robust sex stereotypes and are supported by striking differences in the prevalence of emotional disorders, whereby women exhibit higher symptomatology than men. Therefore, we conducted functional activation (fMRI) and connectivity analyses (ICA) of men and women during an emotion-regulation task involving negative scenes and an emotion-processing task involving fearful human faces. The results of both analyses were regressed with personality/affective style questionnaires (NEO-FFI, BIS/BAS). Across tasks, fMRI results show marked differences in the way the two genders engage with negative stimuli. Women show a positive relationship between trait conscientiousness and regions associated with top-down dorsal attentional during negative stimuli and default mode networks (DMN) during baseline compared to men. In addition, women display a positive relationship between both BIS and BAS reward responsiveness (BAS-RR) scale and regions associated with the DMN in both tasks during baseline. Functional connectivity results show a similar pattern, whereby women indicate a positive relationship between both trait conscientiousness and BAS-RR with emotional processing networks involving the visual cortex, amygdala, somatosensory cortices (SMC) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Conversely, men exhibit a negative relationship with both conscientiousness and BAS-RR with limbic and ventral attention networks. The results suggest that across tasks, women engage more with negative stimuli, finding them more salient than men. This in turn, leads to more top-down attentional processing during negative stimuli and more processing of emotion extending into baseline while men exhibit less processing of emotion, and more utilization of suppression mechanisms.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding