Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence

Itzhak Aharon, Nancy Etcoff, Dan Ariely, Christopher F. Chabris, Ethan O'Connor, Hans C. Breiter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

745 Scopus citations

Abstract

The brain circuitry processing rewarding and aversive stimuli is hypothesized to be at the core of motivated behavior. In this study, discrete categories of beautiful faces are shown to have differing reward values and to differentially activate reward circuitry in human subjects. In particular, young heterosexual males rate pictures of beautiful males and females as attractive, but exert effort via a keypress procedure only to view pictures of attractive females. Functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T shows that passive viewing of beautiful female faces activates reward circuitry, in particular the nucleus accumbens. An extended set of subcortical and paralimbic reward regions also appear to follow aspects of the keypress rather than the rating procedures, suggesting that reward circuitry function does not include aesthetic assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-551
Number of pages15
JournalNeuron
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 8 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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