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Facial attractiveness plays important roles in social interaction. Electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies found several brain areas to be differentially responsive to attractive relative to unattractive faces. However, little is known about the time course of the information processing, especially under the unattended condition. Based on a “cross-modal delayed response” paradigm, the present study aimed to explore the automatic mechanism of facial attractiveness processing of females with different physiological cycles and males, respectively, through recording the event-related potentials in response to (un)attractive opposite-sex faces by two experiments. The attractiveness-related visual mismatch negativity (attractiveness vMMN) in posterior scalp distribution was recorded in both the experiments, which indicated that attractive faces could be processed automatically. And high-attractive opposite-sex faces can elicit larger vMMN in males than females in menstrual period in Study 1, but similar as females in ovulatory period in Study 2. Furthermore, by comparison, the latency of attractiveness vMMN in females with the ovulatory period was the longest. These results indicated as follows: (1) Males were more sensitive to attractive female faces, (2) females in ovulatory period were also attracted by the attractive male faces, (3) the long vMMN latency in females during ovulatory period suggested a special reproductive motivation to avoid being tainted by genes, which takes priority over the breeding motivation.
Evolutionary Psychology – SAGE
Published: Nov 21, 2018
Keywords: facial attractiveness; automatic processing; event-related potential (ERP); visual mismatch negativity (vMMN); female in ovulatory period; female in menstrual period
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