β-Adrenoceptor blockade modulates fusiform gyrus activity to black versus white faces.
Terbeck S., Kahane G., McTavish S., McCutcheon R., Hewstone M., Savulescu J., Chesterman LP., Cowen PJ., Norbury R.
INTRODUCTION: The beta-adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol is known to reduce peripheral and central activity of noradrenaline. A recent study found that intervention with propranolol diminished negative implicit racial bias. MATERIALS AND METHOD: The current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to determine the neural correlates of this effect. Healthy volunteers (N = 40) of white ethnic origin received a single oral dose (40 mg) of propranolol, in a randomised, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled design, before viewing unfamiliar faces of same and other race. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: We found significantly reduced activity in the fusiform gyrus and thalamus following propranolol to out-group faces only. Additionally, propranolol lowered the implicit attitude score, without affecting explicit prejudice measure. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that noradrenaline pathways might modulate racial bias by acting on the processing of categorisation in the fusiform gyrus.