Can ovulating women’s brain recognise potential sex partner?


Washington : Women’s preferences for ‘manly’ men are influenced by their menstrual cycles.

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A new study by Kinsey Institute showed differences in brain activity as women considered masculinised and feminised male faces and whether the person was a potential sexual partner.

Researchers identified regions of the brain that responded more strongly to masculine faces and demonstrated that differences between masculinised and feminised faces appeared strongest when the women were closer to ovulating.

The study sheds light on the link between women’s hormone levels and their brain responses to masculinized versus feminized male faces, potentially offering insights into female mate preferences, according to a Kinsey Institute release.

The current study points towards enhancements of both sensory discrimination and risk processing around ovulation in response to masculine faces as possible indicators of women’s mate preferences.

“One area of the brain in which we observed a difference in activation in response to masculinised versus feminised faces . . . was the anterior cingulate cortex, a region involved in decision-making and the evaluation of potential reward and risk,” said neuroscientist Heather Rupp, research fellow at the Kinsey Institute.

These fluctuating preferences are thought to reflect evolutionarily founded changes in women’s reproductive priorities. Around the time of ovulation women prefer more masculinized faces — faces with features that indicate high levels of testosterone.

The study was supported by National Institutes of Health.

The article will appear in January edition of Evolution and Human Behaviour.