, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 319–330 | Cite as

New Research, Old Problems: Methodological and Ethical Issues in fMRI Research Examining Sex/Gender Differences in Emotion Processing

  • Robyn Bluhm
Original Paper


Neuroscience research examining sex/gender differences aims to explain behavioral differences between men and women in terms of differences in their brains. Historically, this research has used ad hoc methods and has been conducted explicitly in order to show that prevailing gender roles were dictated by biology. I examine contemporary fMRI research on sex/gender differences in emotion processing and argue that it, too, both uses problematic methods and, in doing so, reinforces gender stereotypes.


Neuroimaging fMRI Epistemology Sex/gender differences Philosophy of science 



Work on this paper was supported by a fellowship from the Old Dominion University Office of Research. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the New Scholars in Bioethics (NSIB) First Annual Symposium and I would like to thank the participants - Danielle Bromwich, Joseph Millum, Marika Warren, Michael Garnett and Kirstin Borgerson - for their valuable feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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