Neural bases of human mate choice: Multiple value dimensions, sex difference, and self-assessment system

Risa Funayama, Motoaki Sugiura, Yuko Sassa, Hyeonjeong Jeong, Keisuke Wakusawa, Kaoru Horie, Shigeru Sato, Ryuta Kawashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Mate choice is an example of sophisticated daily decision making supported by multiple componential processes. In mate-choice literature, different characteristics of the value dimensions, including the sex difference in the value dimensions, and the involvement of self-assessment due to the mutual nature of the choice, have been suggested. We examined whether the brain-activation pattern during virtual mate choice would be congruent with these characteristics in terms of stimulus selectivity and activated brain regions. In measuring brain activity, young men and women were shown two pictures of either faces or behaviors, and they indicated which person they would choose either as a spouse or as a friend. Activation selective to spouse choice was observed face-selectively in men's amygdala and behavior-selectively in women's motor system. During both partner-choice conditions, behavior-selective activation was observed in the temporoparietal regions. Taking the available knowledge of these regions into account, these results are congruent with the suggested characteristics of value dimensions for physical attractiveness, parenting resources, and beneficial personality traits for a long-lasting relationship, respectively. The medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortices were nonselectively activated during the partner choices, suggesting the involvement of a self-assessment process. The results thus provide neuroscientific support for the multi-component mate-choice mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-73
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan


  • Decision making
  • Mate choice
  • Self-assessment
  • Sex difference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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