Hormonal women are more responsive to manly men, says a study by Kinsey Institute researchers at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Women participating in the Kinsey study were shown 224 photos of men’s faces, some of which had been “masculinized” or “feminized” using photo-morphing software. MRI scans revealed higher levels of brain response to the masculinized photos, particularly in women who were in the phase of their menstrual cycle immediately preceding ovulation.
The study is the first to show differences in neural activation to masculinized and feminized faces, LiveScience.com said. One of the areas of the brain most activated by the images, the anterior cingulated cortex, is involved in decision-making and assessment, which indicates that women are calculating the risks and rewards related to a man with high levels of testosterone.
“Because male traits generally thought to predict good condition and even genetic quality often coincide with less desirable characteristics, women must balance potentially disparate mating priorities,” writes Heather Rupp, who headed the study.