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 22, 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 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
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