I find you more attractive... after (prefrontal cortex) stimulation

Chiara Ferrari, Carlotta Lega, Marco Tamietto, Marcos Nadal, Zaira Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Facial attractiveness seems to be perceived immediately. Neuroimaging evidence suggests that the appraisal of facial attractiveness is mediated by a network of cortical and subcortical regions, mainly encompassing the reward circuit, but also including prefrontal cortices. The prefrontal cortex is involved in high-level processes, so how does its activity relate to beauty appreciation? To shed light on this, we asked male and female participants to evaluate the attractiveness of faces of the same and other sex prior and after transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). We found that increasing excitability via anodal tDCS in the right but not in the left DLPFC increased perceived attractiveness of the faces, irrespective of the sex of the faces or the sex of the viewers. Identical stimulation over the same site did not affect estimation of other facial characteristics, such as age, thereby suggesting that the effects of anodal tDCS over the right DLPFC might be selective for facial attractiveness, and might not generalize to decisions concerning other facial attributes. Overall, our data suggest that the right DLPFC plays a causal role in explicit judgment of facial attractiveness. The mechanisms mediating such effect are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Attractiveness
  • Face processing
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • TDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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