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Hum Brain Mapp. 2000 Nov;11(3):162-77.

Brain processing of visual sexual stimuli in human males.

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Centre d'Exploration et de Recherche Médicale par Emission de Positons (CERMEP), Lyon, France.


Despite its critical sociobiological importance, the brain processing of visual sexual stimuli has not been characterized precisely in human beings. We used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to investigate responses of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in nine healthy males presented with visual sexual stimuli of graded intensity. Statistical Parametric Mapping was used to locate brain regions whose activation was associated with the presentation of the sexual stimuli and was correlated with markers of sexual arousal. The claustrum, a region whose function had been unclear, displayed one of the highest activations. Additionally, activations were recorded in paralimbic areas (anterior cingulate gyrus, orbito-frontal cortex), in the striatum (head of caudate nucleus, putamen), and in the posterior hypothalamus. By contrast, decreased rCBF was observed in several temporal areas. Based on these results, we propose a model of the brain processes mediating the cognitive, emotional, motivational, and autonomic components of human male sexual arousal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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