Brief Communications

Nature 413, 589 (11 October 2001) | doi:10.1038/35098149

Psychology: Reward value of attractiveness and gaze

Knut K. W. Kampe1, Chris D. Frith2, Raymond J. Dolan2 & Uta Frith1

Faces are visual objects in our environment that provide strong social cues1, with the eyes assuming particular importance2, 3. Here we show that the perceived attractiveness of an unfamiliar face increases brain activity in the ventral striatum of the viewer when meeting the person's eye, and decreases activity when eye gaze is directed away. Depending on the direction of gaze, attractiveness can thus activate dopaminergic regions that are strongly linked to reward prediction4, indicating that central reward systems may be engaged during the initiation of social interactions.

  1. Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK
  2. Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK

Correspondence to: Knut K. W. Kampe1 e-mail: Email: k.kampe@ucl.ac.uk