Thursday, January 19, 2006

Men's vengeful brains

While trying to digest the overwhelming yet so short conference on Imaging Genetics in Irvine, I find myself just tapping into some of the latest headlines. This little piece in New Scientist on sexual differences in revenge sounds interesting.

From the New Scientist article:

Tania Singer of University College London and colleagues used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to analyse the brain activity of 32 volunteers after their participation in a simple game, called the Prisoner's Dilemma.

The game allows players to cooperate or double-cross one another, and so fosters camaraderie or enmity between players. Following the game, participants were placed inside an fMRI machine and then saw their fellow players zapped with electricity. The activity in their brain was recorded as they watched.

The scans revealed changes in activity as players who had cooperated got zapped, compared with those who had double-crossed them in the game. The results suggest that men get a much bigger kick than women from seeing revenge physically exacted on someone perceived to have wronged them.

So it seems possible that there are sexual differences in how men and women choose their revenge. It does not show, however, that men are more vengeful. But they seem to react more to see their opponents being punished.

Red the full story here and visit Dr. Tania Singer's homepage to read more.

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