Dynamic subcortical blood flow during male sexual activity with ecological validity: A perfusion MRI study

Janniko R. Georgiadis*, Michael J. Farrell, Ruud Boessen, Derek A. Denton, Maria Gavrilescu, Rudie Kortekaas, Remco J. Renken, Johannes M. Hoogduin, Gary F. Egan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study used arterial spin labeling (ASL) fMRI to measure brain perfusion in a group of healthy men under conditions that closely resembled customary sexual behavior. Serial perfusion measures for 30 min during two self-limited periods of partnered penis stimulation, and during post-stimulatory periods, revealed novel sexual activity-related cerebral blood flow (rCBF) changes, mainly in subcortical parts of the brain. Ventral pallidium rCBF was highest during the onset of penile erection, and lowest after the termination of penis stimulation. The perceived level of sexual arousal showed the strongest positive association with rCBF in the right basal forebrain. in addition, our results demonstrate that distinct subregions of the hypothalamus and cingulate cortex subserve opposite functions during human male sexual behavior. The lateral hypothalamus and anterior part of the middle cingulate cortex showed increased rCBF correlated with penile erection. By contrast, the anteroventral hypothalamus and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex exhibited rCBF changes correlated with penile detumescence after penile stimulation. Continuous rapid and high-resolution brain perfusion imaging during normal sexual activity has provided novel insights into the central mechanisms that control male sexual arousal. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-216
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroimage
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2010

Keywords

  • HUMAN MALE EJACULATION
  • BRAIN ACTIVATION
  • LIMBIC CONNECTIONS
  • MACAQUE MONKEYS
  • PENILE ERECTION
  • FMRI
  • STIMULATION
  • AROUSAL
  • ORGASM
  • CORTEX

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