Reward value of attractiveness and gaze

Nature. 2001 Oct 11;413(6856):589. doi: 10.1038/35098149.


Faces are visual objects in our environment that provide strong social cues, with the eyes assuming particular importance. 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 prediction, indicating that central reward systems may be engaged during the initiation of social interactions.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Beauty*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Eye*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Reward*
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Dopamine