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Sex is in the brain, says new research from Stanford
Date:3/2/2009

STANFORD, Calif. More than 40 percent of women ages 18-59 experience sexual dysfunction, with lack of sexual interest hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD being the most commonly reported complaint, according to medical researchers. While some question the validity of this diagnosis, a multidisciplinary team from the Stanford University School of Medicine is devoted to objective investigation of such problems.

Here is a quick briefing on new research on this problem from Bruce Arnow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Leah Millheiser, MD, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.

The question: What role does the brain play in some women's lack of sexual desire?

Background: Studies of factors affecting sexual performance have largely focused on men, and on physiology of the body rather than the brain. But the brain, rather than peripheral organs, may play the key role in female sexual dysfunction.

The study: The trial is the first to compare brain-activation patterns of females who have HSDD with those who don't. Sixteen women diagnosed with HSDD, along with 20 normal control subjects, took part in the study. All subjects identified themselves as heterosexual.

The experiment: Subjects were shown erotic video segments interspersed among footage of female sporting events. These segments were separated by intervening tranquil sequences of such subjects as flowers, mountains or ocean waves to bring the women's brains to a resting state between more-active segments. Their brain activity was monitored by functional magnetic-resonance imaging, which allows the activity of different brain regions to be assessed in real time. The women also reported their subjective levels of sexual arousal throughout the viewing. Meanwhile, the researchers also collected objective measurements of the women's level
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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