The role of the prefrontal cortex in controlling gender-stereotypical associations: A TMS investigation

Zaira Cattaneo, Giulia Mattavelli, Elisa Platania, Costanza Papagno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Stereotypes associated with gender, race, ethnicity and religion are powerful forces in human social interactions. Previous neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies point to a role of the prefrontal cortex in controlling stereotypical responses. Here we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in combination with an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to highlight the possible causal role of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the right anterior dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (aDMPFC) in controlling gender-stereotypical responses. Young male and female participants were tested. Our results showed that applying TMS over the left DLPFC and the right aDMPFC increased the gender-stereotypical bias in male participants compared to when TMS was applied to a control site (vertex). This suggests that both the left DLPFC and the right aDMPFC play a direct role in stereotyping. Females did not show a significant gender bias on the IAT; correspondingly their responses were unaffected by TMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1839-1846
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroImage
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • Brain stimulation
  • Gender stereotypes
  • IAT
  • Inhibition
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology

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