Patterns of Brain Activity Tied to Psychogenic Impotence
(HealthDay News) – The left superior parietal lobe of the brain is important in the inhibition of sexual response in men with psychogenic erectile dysfunction (ED).
Nicoletta Cera, PhD, of the University G.d'Annunzio of Chieti in Italy, and colleagues conducted a study involving 17 men with psychogenic ED and 19 healthy controls who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and simultaneous penile tumescence (PT) to record blood oxygen level-dependent fMRI response and PT during visual erotic stimulation. The authors sought to identify the brain dynamics associated with psychogenic ED.
The researchers found that brain activity in response to visual erotic stimuli for those with psychogenic ED was highest in the left superior parietal lobe (SPL), ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). However, healthy controls exhibited greater activity in the right middle insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and hippocampus. In the later stage of sexual response, activity was higher in the left superior parietal lobe for patients than for controls.
"Our data suggest the presence of two dissociable systems involved in human sexual behavior: sexual arousal and inhibition of sexual response," the authors write. "In patients, the activity of vmPFC, PCC, left caudate nucleus, and left SPL may play a role in inhibition of sexual response. Particularly, the inhibition of sexual response would act on the attentional processing of external sexual stimuli and monitoring of changes of internal bodily states."