Sex differences in memory of emotional images: a behavioral and electrophysiological investigation.Int J Psychophysiol. 2012 Jul; 85(1):17-26.IJ
Current research suggests that emotional responses differ between men and women. Sex differences regarding emotional effects on memory have been recently studied through brain imaging techniques. However, the majority of investigations have often neglected to balance the variable of emotional intensity (arousal) across pleasant and unpleasant pictures. Additionally, men and women were often mixed or studied separately. The current study aims at comparing men and women's electrophysiological responses related to emotional memory of photographic material. These responses were measured using Event Related brain Potentials (ERP) in response to a task of episodic memory of emotional images. The frontal N200, the parietal P300 and the central LPC were compared in 17 men and 17 women matched for age, social economic status, education and intelligence. Behavioral results showed that, in men, reaction times were modulated by valence, whereas for women, reaction times were mainly modulated by arousal. Accuracy was affected by both emotional valence and arousal, but only in women. ERP analyses revealed that emotional valence influenced earlier time components (frontal N200 and parietal P300), whereas arousal influenced memory in the later time component (central LPC). Moreover, sex differences, mediated by valence and arousal, were found in ERP responses at different times in the processing stream.