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In our study, we investigated how mortality salience modulates the processing of attractive opposite-sex faces.
Such strategies include striving to maintain or recreate self-esteem ( Greenberg , 1986 ), which posits the reliance on symbolic immortality as a way to buffer the existential threat conveyed in notions of mortality. living on in one’s progeny, can serve as a shield to buffer the psychological threat implied in the thought of death ( Lifton, 1973 ; Florian and Mikulincer, 1998 ).
On a neural level faces of preferred sex are processed with a higher responsiveness in regions within the reward circuitry ( Kranz and Ishai, 2006 ).
For heterosexual participants a gender difference could be found in the perception of attractive opposite-sex faces ( Cloutier , 2011 ): stronger neural responses were found when men viewed attractive female faces.
The first insights into neural substrates of mortality salience, which were provided by functional magnetic resonance imaging (f MRI) studies, revealed that the processing of death-related cues compared with control stimuli was related to metabolic modulations in brain areas that are relevant for emotion processing.
In particular, higher activations in the left anterior cingulate cortex, right amygdala and right caudate nucleus ( Quirin , 2012 ).