Gender Differences in Frontal Activation While Perceiving Pathologically Thin Female Body Forms
Toru Uehara, Yoko Ishige, Masashi Suda, Perminder Sachdev
DOI: 10.4236/jbbs.2011.13014   PDF   HTML     5,298 Downloads   10,811 Views   Citations


Brain mechanisms underlying body image disturbances are a focus of research in the realm of eating disorders, and functional imaging studies have revealed gender differences in the processing of body shape. In this study, using 16-channel near infrared spectroscopy, we investigated frontal lobe activation in 46 healthy university students during viewing of photographs of pathologically thin female forms, and compared gender differences in activation, and examined the correlations between the relative changes in cerebral blood volume, eating attitudes, and perceived feelings. Participants completed the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT26) and rated a visual analogue scale for anxiety/disgust. Significant gender differences in the pattern of activation were noted in the prefrontal region (predominantly right side, dorsolateral to ventral), with male participants showing greater and more widespread frontal activation. The total and subscale scores on EAT26 were significantly correlated with the frontal activation, and perceived feelings were significantly associated with increased prefrontal activation on the left side. Gender differences in frontal activation suggest differential expectations between men and women of pathologically thin female body forms. The study results suggest that anorexic psychopathology may be associated with abnormal right frontal activation while viewing thin bodies of others.

Share and Cite:

T. Uehara, Y. Ishige, M. Suda and P. Sachdev, "Gender Differences in Frontal Activation While Perceiving Pathologically Thin Female Body Forms," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 1 No. 3, 2011, pp. 102-110. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2011.13014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] R. Uher, T. Murphy, H. C. Friederich, T. Dalgleish, M. J. Brammer, V. Giampietro, M. L. Phillips, C. M. Andrew, V. W. Ng, S. C. Williams, I. C. Campbell and J. Treasure, “Functional Neuroanatomy of Body Shape Perception In Healthy and Eating-Disordered Women,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 58, No. 12, 2005, pp. 990-997. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.06.001
[2] A. Wagner, M. Ruf, D. F. Braus and M. H. Schmidt, “Neuronal Activity Changes and Body Image Distortion in Anorexia Nervosa,” NeuroReport, Vol. 14, 2003, pp. 2193-2197. doi:10.1097/00001756-200312020-00012
[3] J. Schwoebel and H. B. Coslett, “Evidence for Multiple, Distinct Representations of the Human Body,” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 17, No. 4, 2005, pp. 543- 553. doi:10.1162/0898929053467587
[4] N. Shirao, Y. Okamoto, T. Mantani, Y. Okamoto and S. Yamawaki, “Gender Differences in Brain Activity Generated by Unpleasant Word Stimuli Concerning Body Image: An fMRI Study,” British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 186, 2005, pp. 48-53. doi:10.1192/bjp.186.1.48
[5] H. M. Mohr, J. Zimmermann, C. R?der, C. Lenz, G. Overbeck and R. Grabhorn, “Separating Two Components of Body Image in Anorexia Nervosa Using fMRI,” Psychological Medicine, Vol. 40, 2010, pp. 1519-1529. doi:10.1017/S0033291709991826
[6] H. C. Friederich, R. Uher, S. Brooks, V. Giampietro, M. Brammer, S. C. Williams, W. Herzog, J. Treasure and I. C. Campbell, “I’m not as Slim as That Girl: Neural Bases of Body Shape Self-Comparison to Media Images,” NeuroImage, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2007, pp. 674-681. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.05.039
[7] M. Kurosaki, N. Shirao, H. Yamashita, Y. Okamoto and S. Yamawaki, “Distorted Images of One’s Own Body Activates the Prefrontal Cortex and Limbic/Paralimbic System in Young Women: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 59, No. 4, 2006, pp. 380-386. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.06.039
[8] P. Fossati, S. J. Hevenor, S. J. Graham, C. Grady, M. L. Keightley, F. Craik and H. Mayberg, “In Search of the Emotional Self: An FMRI Study Using Positive and Negative Emotional Words,” American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 160, No. 11, 2003, pp. 1938-1945. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.11.1938
[9] K. N. Ochsner, K. Knierim, D. H. Ludlow, J. Hanelin, T. Ramachandran, G. Glover and S. C. Mackey, “Reflecting upon Feelings: An fMRI Study of Neural Systems Supporting the Attribution of Emotion to Self and Other,” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 16, No. 10, 2004, pp. 1746-1772. doi:10.1162/0898929042947829
[10] P. Sachdev, N. Mondraty, W. Wen and K. Guilford, “Brains of Anorexia Nervosa Patients Process Self-Images Differently from Non-Self-Images: An fMRI Study,” Nueropsyhologia, Vol. 46, 2008, pp. 2161-2168.
[11] D. A. Boas, A. M. Dale and M. A. Franceschini, “Diffuse Optical Imaging of Brain Activation: Approaches to Optimizing Image Sensitivity, Resolution, and Accuracy,” Neuroimage, Vol. 23, No. , 2004, pp. 275-288. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.07.011
[12] M. Suda, M. Fukuda, T. Sato, S. Iwata, M. Song, M. Kameyama and M. Mikuni, “Subjective Feeling of Psychological Fatigue Is Related to Decreased Reactivity in Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex,” Brain Research, Vol. 1252, Supplement 1, 2009, pp. 152-160. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.11.077
[13] S. Grignon, K. Forget, M. Durand and T. Huppert, “Increased Left Prefrontal Activation During Staring/Mutism Episodes in a Patient with Resistant Catatonic Schizophrenia: A Near Infrared Spectroscopy Study,” Cognitive Behavior Neurology, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2008, pp. 41-45. doi:10.1097/WNN.0b013e3181684d87
[14] R. Takizawa, K.Kasai, Y. Kawakubo, K. Marumo, S. Kawasaki and H. Yamasue, “Reduced Frontopolar Activation During Verbal Fluency Task in Schizophrenia: A Multichannel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study,” Schizophrenia Research, Vol. 99, 2008, pp. 250-262. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2007.10.025
[15] K. Matsuo, Y. Onodera, T. Hamamoto, K. Muraki, N. Kato and T. Kato, “Hypofrontality and Microvascular Dysregulation in Remitted Late-Onset Depression Assessed by Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy,” Neuroimage, Vol. 26, No. 1, 2005, pp. 234-242. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.01.024
[16] A. C. Ehlis, C. G. B?hne, C. P. Jacob, M. J. Herrmann and A. J. Fallgatter, “Reduced Lateral Prefrontal Activation in Adult Patients with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) during a Working Memory Task: A Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Study,” Jour- nal of Psychiatric Research, Vol. 42, No. 3, 2008, pp. 1060-1067. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.11.011
[17] M. Suda, Y. Takei, Y. Aoyama, K. Narita, T. Sato, M. Fukuda and M. Mikuni, “Frontopolar Activation During Face-to-Face Conversation: An in Situ Study Using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy,” Neuropsychologia, Vol. 48, No. 2, 2010a, pp. 441-447. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.09.036
[18] M. Suda, T. Sato, M. Kameyama, M. Ito, T. Suto, Y. Yamagishi, T. Uehara, M. Fukuda and M. Mikuni, “Decreased Cortical Reactivity Underlies Subjective Daytime Light Sleepiness in Healthy Subjects: A Multichannel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study,” Neuroscience Research, Vol. 60, No. 3, 2008, pp. 319-326. doi:10.1016/j.neures.2007.12.001
[19] T. Sato, M. Ito, T. Suto, M. Kameyama, M. Suda, Y. Yamagishi, A. Ohshima, T. Uehara, M. Fukuda and M. Mikuni, “Time Courses of Brain Activation and Their Implications for Function: A Multichannel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study during Finger Tapping,” Neuroscience Research, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2007, pp. 297-304. doi:10.1016/j.neures.2007.03.014
[20] E. Ohmae, Y. Ouchi, M. Oda, T. Suzuki, S. Nobesawa, T. Kanno, E. Yoshikawa, M. Futatsubashi, Y. Ueda, H. Okada and Y. Yamashita, “Cerebral Hemodynamics Evaluation by Near-Infrared Time-Resolved Spectroscopy: Correlation with Simultaneous Positron Emission Tomography Measurements,” Neuroimage, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2006, pp. 697-705.
[21] V. Toronov, A. Webb, J. H. Choi, M. Wolf, A. Michalos, E. Gratton and D. Hueber, “Investigation of Human Brain Hemodynamics by Simultaneous Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” Medical Physiology, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2001, pp. 521-527. doi:10.1118/1.1354627
[22] D. J. Mehagnoul-Schipper, B. F. van der Kallen, W. N. Colier, M. C. van der Sluijs, L. J. van Erning, H. O. Thijssen, B. Oeseburg, W. H. Hoefnagels and R. W. Jansen, “Simultaneous Measurements of Cerebral Oxygenation Changes During Brain Activation by Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Healthy Young and Elderly Subjects,” Human Brain Mapping, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2002, pp. 14-23. doi:10.1002/hbm.10026
[23] D. M. Garner, M. P. Olmsted, Y. Bohr and P. E. Garfinkel, “The Eating Attitudes Test: Psychometric Features and Clinical Correlates,” Psychological Medicine, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1982, pp. 871-878. doi:10.1017/S0033291700049163
[24] K. Nakamura, Y. Hoshino, A. Watanabe, K. Honda, S. Niwa, K. Tominaga, S. Shimai and M. Yamamoto, “Eating Problems in Female Japanese High School Students: A Prevalence Study,” International Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 26, No. 1, 1999, pp. 91-95. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-108X(199907)26:1<91::AID-EAT12>3.0.CO;2-M
[25] M. Kameyama, M. Fukuda, Y. Yamagishi, T. Sato, T. Uehara, M. Ito and M. Mikuni, “Frontal Lobe Function in Bipolar Disorder: A Multichannel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study,” Neuroimage, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2006, pp. 172-184. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.07.025
[26] T. Suto, M. Fukuda, M. Ito, T. Uehara and M. Mikuni, “Multichannel Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Depression and Schizophrenia: Cognitive Brain Activation Study,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 55, No. 5, 2005, pp. 501-511. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2003.09.008
[27] A. Etkin, T. Egner, D. M. Peraza, E. R. Kandel and J. Hirsch, “Resolving Emotional Conflict: A Role for the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Modulating Activity in the Amygdale,” Neuron, Vol. 51, No. 6, 2006, pp. 871-882. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2006.07.029
[28] M. Suda, T. Uehara, M. Fukuda, T. Sato, M. Kameyama, and M. Mikuni, “Dieting Tendency and Eating Behavior Problems in Eating Disorder Correlate with Right Frontotemporal and Left Orbitofrontal Cortex: A Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study,” Journal of Psychiatry Research, Vol. 44, No. 8, 2010b, pp. 547-555. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.11.005
[29] T. A. Kimbrell, M. S. George, P. I. Parekh, T. A. Ketter, D. M. Podell, A. L. Danielson, J. D. Repella, B. E. Benson, M. W. Willis, P. Herscovitch and R. M. Post, “Regional Brain Activity During Transient Selfinduced Anxiety and Anger in Healthy Adults,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 46, No. 4, 1999, pp. 454-465. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(99)00103-1
[30] D. D. Dougherty, L. M. Shin, N. M. Alpert, R. K. Pitman, S. P. Orr, M. Lasko, M. L. Macklin, A. J. Fischman, S. L. Rauch, “Anger in Healthy Men: A Pet Study Using Script-Driven Imagery,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 46, No. 4, 1999, pp. 466-472. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(99)00063-3
[31] S. Grimm, C. F. Schmidt, F. Bermpohl, A. Heinzel, Y. Dahlem, M. Wyss, D. Hell, P. Boesiger, H. Boeker and G. Northoff, “Segregated Neural Representation of Distinct Emotion Dimensions in the Prefrontal Cortex—an fMRI Study,” Neuroimage, Vol. 30, No. , 2006, pp. 325-340. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.09.006
[32] D. Tsuzuki, V. Jurcak, A. K. Singh, M. Okamoto, E. Watanabe and I. Dan, “Virtual Spatial Registration of Stand- Alone fNIRS Data to MNI Space,” Neuroimage, Vol. 34, No. 4, 2007, pp. 1506-1518. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.10.043
[33] P. E. Downing, Y. Jiang, M. Shuman and N. Kanwisher, “A Cortical Area Selective for Visual Processing of the Human Body,” Science, Vol. 293, No. 5539, 2001, pp. 2470-2473. doi:10.1126/science.1063414
[34] D. Nico, E. Daprati, N. Nighoghossian, E. Carrier, J. R. Duhamel and A. Sirigu, “The Role of the Right Parietal Lobe in Anorexia Nervosa,” Psychological Medicine, Vol. 40, No. 9, 2010, pp. 1531-1539. doi:10.1017/S0033291709991851
[35] Y. Miyake, Y. Okamoto, K. Onoda, M. Kurosaki, N. Shirao, Y. Okamoto and S. Yamawaki, “Brain Activation during the Perception of Distorted Body Images in Eating Disorders,” Psychiatry Research, Vol. 181, No. 3, 2010a, pp. 183-192. doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2009.09.001
[36] Y. Miyake, Y. Okamoto, K. Onoda, N. Shirao, Y. Okamoto, Y. Otagaki and S. Yamawaki, “Neural Processing of Negative Word Stimuli Concerning Body Image in Patients with Eating Disorders: An fMRI Study,” Neuroimage, Vol. 50, No. 3, 2010b, pp. 1333-1339. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.12.095

Copyright © 2021 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.