Neural correlates of automatic beliefs about gender and race

Authors

  • Kristine M. Knutson,

    1. Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Linda Mah,

    1. Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
    Current affiliation:
    1. Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, Molecular Imaging Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0135
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  • Charlotte F. Manly,

    1. Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Jordan Grafman

    Corresponding author
    1. Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
    • Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • A portion of this work has been presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting, New York, NY, March 29th–April 1st, 2003, and at the American Neuropsychiatric Association Meeting, Bal Harbour, Florida, February 21–24, 2004.

Abstract

Functional MRI was used to identify the brain areas underlying automatic beliefs about gender and race, and suppression of those attitudes. Participants (n = 20; 7 females) were scanned at 3 tesla while performing the Implicit Association Test (IAT), an indirect measure of race and gender bias. We hypothesized that ventromedial prefrontal cortex areas (PFC) would mediate gender and racial stereotypic attitudes, and suppression of these beliefs would recruit dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Performance data on the IAT revealed gender and racial biases. Racial bias was correlated with an explicit measure of racism. Results showed activation of anteromedial PFC and rostral ACC while participants implicitly made associations consistent with gender and racial biases. In contrast, associations incongruent with stereotypes recruited DLPFC. Implicit gender bias was correlated with amygdala activation during stereotypic conditions. Results suggest there are dissociable roles for anteromedial and dorsolateral PFC circuits in the activation and inhibition of stereotypic attitudes. Hum Brain Mapp 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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