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Behav Brain Res. 2010 Jan 20;206(2):279-85. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2009.09.027. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Brain activation evoked by erotic films varies with different menstrual phases: an fMRI study.

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Department of Medical Psychology, Peking University Health Science Center, and Department of Radiology, Peking University First Hospital, No. 38, Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100191, China.


In humans, fluctuating hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle are believed to regulate many cyclical sexual behaviors and motivational processes. However, there is a dearth of research investigating the neural correlates of this phenomenon. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify brain regions involved in sexual arousal's regulatory process. Fifteen female participants were scanned while viewing erotic film excerpts at three time points during a single menstrual cycle: ovulation, menstruation, and at one additional time point. Tripled two-group differences analysis revealed that significant activation in the comparison was observed in non-ovulatory phases of the menstrual cycle in parts of the right inferior frontal gyrus, right lateral occipital cortex, and left postcentral gyrus, as well as in the bilateral superior parietal lobule. Thus, our results indicate that brain activity differs in the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle compared to during other menstrual phases. This finding provides neurological evidence for the ovulatory cycle's modulation of the processing of the sexual arousal in female human brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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