This release is available in French.
Montreal, October 21, 2009 Women are better than men at distinguishing between emotions, especially fear and disgust, according to a new study published in the online version of the journal Neuropsychologia. As part of the investigation, Olivier Collignon and a team from the Universit de Montral Centre de recherche en neuropsychologie et cognition (CERNEC) demonstrated that women are better than men at processing auditory, visual and audiovisual emotions.
While women have long been thought to outperform men in neuropsychological tests, until now, these findings were inconsistent. To obtain more conclusive evidence, the Universit de Montral researchers did not use photographs to analyze the reaction of subjects. Instead, the scientists hired actors and actresses to simulate fear and disgust.
"Facial movements have been shown to play an important role in the perception of an emotion's intensity as well as stimulate different parts of the brain used in the treatment of such information," says Collignon, who also works as a researcher at the Universit catholique de Louvain's Institute of Neuroscience in Belgium.
As part of their study, the research team exposed subjects to bimodal stimuli or the facial expressions of live actors combined with recordings of human emotions. Twenty-three men and 23 women, aged 18 to 43, were tested and none had any recorded history of neurological or psychiatric problems.
Participants were asked to quickly categorize emotions they identified as fear or disgust. Emotions were based on auditory stimuli, visual stimuli, followed by compatible audio-visual stimuli and contradictory audio-visual stimuli (i.e. a face that expressed fear with a voice that expressed disgust).
The study found that women were
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University of Montreal