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J Sex Med. 2012 Oct;9(10):2631-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02782.x. Epub 2012 May 21.

Prefrontal EEG correlation during Tower of Hanoi and WCST performance: effect of emotional visual stimuli.

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Neuroscience Institute, University of Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.



Emotional stimuli elicit changes in the electroencephalographic (EEG) activity of several brain structures. Prefrontal cortex is involved in the processing of emotional stimuli and executive functions. The correlation analysis of EEG provides information about the functional coupling between areas. It is reasonable to expect that emotional activation will modify prefrontal coupling during the performance of executive tasks such as Tower of Hanoi or Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST).


Determine whether the prefrontal EEG correlation during the performance of the Tower of Hanoi and WCST is affected by previous exposure to videos with sexual or aggressive content.


Prefrontal EEG coupling was determined by the Pearson correlation. Valence and general arousal were evaluated by the Self-Assessment Manikin Scale and sexual arousal with a Sexual Arousal Scale. Computerized versions of the Towers of Hanoi and WCST provided data on prefrontal executive functions.


EEG from the left and right prefrontal zones was recorded during the performance of the Tower of Hanoi and WCST immediately after the subjects were exposed to one of the videos (neutral, aggressive, and erotic).


There was no difference between videos in the task performance parameters. Only the erotic video produced an increased prefrontal coupling in the slow bands (delta and theta) during the performance of the Tower of Hanoi, whereas a decreased coupling in the delta, theta, and alpha bands was observed during the WCST.


Prefrontal coupling was changed after exposure to the erotic video, and it is likely that enhanced sexual arousal was the main cause of this change. The correlation patterns obtained could be associated with particular cognitive strategies or to functional adaptations while being sexually aroused. The results of this study may contribute to an understanding of the central nervous mechanisms underlying the cognitive effects of sexual arousal.

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