Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gay men's bilateral brains better at remembering faces, study finds

Date:
June 24, 2010
Source:
York University
Summary:
A Canadian study finds that gay men can recall familiar faces faster and more accurately than their heterosexual counterparts.

Gay men can recall familiar faces faster and more accurately than their heterosexual counterparts because, like women, they use both sides of their brains, according to a new study by York University researchers.

The study, published in the journal Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, examined the influence of gender, sexual orientation and whether we're right-or-left-handed on our ability to recognize faces. It found that when memorizing and discriminating between faces, homosexual men show patterns of bilaterality -- the usage of both sides of the brain -- similar to heterosexual women. Heterosexual men tend to favour the right hemisphere for such tasks.

"Our results suggest that both gay men and heterosexual women code faces bilaterally. That allows for faster retrieval of stored information," says study lead author Jennifer Steeves, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health.

Study participants were asked to memorize photographs of ten faces, and differentiate them from 50 others, shown to them for only milliseconds each. The images were rendered in black and white and edited to remove ears, hair and blemishes, which can serve as obvious identifying cues. Participants then had to relay which faces were new, as quickly and accurately as possible.

Steeves and her colleagues also investigated the influence of hand dominance on such tasks. They found that left-handed heterosexual participants had better face recognition abilities than left-handed homosexuals, and also outperformed right-handed heterosexuals.

Hand dominance is thought to be linked with both hemispheric functioning and sexual orientation; previous studies have shown that homosexual individuals are 39 per cent more likely to be left-handed.

"Our findings are consistent with what we know about the organization and laterality of how we process faces depending on our gender, sexual orientation and handedness," Steeves says.

Anatomical studies of the corpus callosum, which facilitates communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, also indicate differences in handedness: women and left-handed men have been shown to possess larger corpus callosum and more symmetrical cortices than right-handed men.

"These anatomical differences likely contribute to the more lateralized performance results seen among right-handed and heterosexual men," says Steeves.

The study was co-authored by York University psychology graduate student Caitlin R. Mullin, and York undergraduate psychology students Paul W. H. Brewster, and Roxana A. Dobrin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul Brewster, Caitlin Mullin, Roxana Dobrin, Jennifer Steeves. Sex differences in face processing are mediated by handedness and sexual orientation. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 2010; 1 DOI: 10.1080/13576500903503759

Cite This Page:

York University. "Gay men's bilateral brains better at remembering faces, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622074612.htm>.
York University. (2010, June 24). Gay men's bilateral brains better at remembering faces, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622074612.htm
York University. "Gay men's bilateral brains better at remembering faces, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622074612.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins