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

of genital arousal.

The findings: Activity patterns throughout most of the brain were more or less identical among the HSDD and normal groups, but with a few notable exceptions. There was a bigger jump in relative activity in three brain areas of HSDD women the medial frontal gyrus, right inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral putamen compared with the control subjects when shown the erotic clips. In another brain area the bilateral entorhinal cortex the opposite effect occurred. This finding establishes specific locations in the brain where activity in women with HSDD is altered in comparison with women not reporting this problem.

Discussion: Two of the brain areas where the HSDD women had increased activity (the medial frontal gyrus and right inferior frontal gyrus) have been previously associated with, respectively, heightened attention to one's own and others' mental states, and suppression of one's emotional response. The research suggests that increased attention to one's own responses to erotic stimuli plays some part in the sexual dysfunction. The increased activation in the entorhinal cortex observed in the control subjects may correlate with an improved ability among women with no sexual dysfunction, compared with HSDD women, to lay down emotional memories related to sexual events.

Caveats: Correlation is not cause and effect. The study could be showing how paying too much attention causes inhibition of sexual desire or how the lack of desire in a sexually charged situation causes heightened self-consciousness.

Bottom line: "The results of this study provide yet another valuable tool for understanding the complexity of female sexual function as it relates to desire," Millheiser said. "The next step is to translate this information into the clinical realm, specifically as it relates to cognitive and pharmacotherapeutic approaches."

Published: The results appeared in the Jan. 23 issue of the journal Neuro
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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