Dynamics of male sexual arousal: Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI

Antonio Ferretti, Massimo Caulo, Cosimo Del Gratta, Rosalia Di Matteo, Arcangelo Merla, Francesco Montorsi, Vittorio Pizzella, Paolo Pompa, Patrizio Rigatti, Paolo Maria Rossini, Andrea Salonia, Armando Tartaro, Gian Luca Romani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

201 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The peripheral mechanisms of male sexual arousal are well known. Recently, neuroimaging techniques, such as PET or fMRI, allowed the investigation of the subjacent cerebral mechanisms. In ten healthy subjects, we have simultaneously recorded fMRI images of brain activation elicited by viewing erotic scenes, and the time course of penile tumescence by means of a custom-built MRI-compatible pneumatic cuff. We have compared activation elicited by video clips with a long duration, that led to sexual arousal and penile erection, and activation elicited by briefly presented still images, that did induce sexual arousal without erection. This comparison and the use of the time course of penile tumescence in video clips allowed to perform a time resolved data analysis and to correlate different patterns of brain activation with different phases of sexual response. The activation maps highlighted a complex neural circuit involved in sexual arousal. Of this circuit, only a few areas (anterior cingulate, insula, amygdala, hypothalamus, and secondary somatosensory cortices) were specifically correlated with penile erection. Finally, these areas showed distinct dynamic relationships with the time course of sexual response. These differences might correspond to different roles in the development and appraisal of the sexual response. These findings shed light on the psychophysiology of male sexuality and open new perspectives for the diagnosis, therapy, and possible rehabilitation of sexual dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-1096
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroImage
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2005

Fingerprint

Penile Erection
Arousal
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Brain
Surgical Instruments
Psychophysiology
Sexual Development
Somatosensory Cortex
Gyrus Cinguli
Sexuality
Amygdala
Neuroimaging
Hypothalamus
Healthy Volunteers
Rehabilitation

Keywords

  • Brain mapping
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Psychophysiology of sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology

Cite this

Ferretti, A., Caulo, M., Del Gratta, C., Di Matteo, R., Merla, A., Montorsi, F., ... Romani, G. L. (2005). Dynamics of male sexual arousal: Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI. NeuroImage, 26(4), 1086-1096. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.03.025

Dynamics of male sexual arousal : Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI. / Ferretti, Antonio; Caulo, Massimo; Del Gratta, Cosimo; Di Matteo, Rosalia; Merla, Arcangelo; Montorsi, Francesco; Pizzella, Vittorio; Pompa, Paolo; Rigatti, Patrizio; Rossini, Paolo Maria; Salonia, Andrea; Tartaro, Armando; Romani, Gian Luca.

In: NeuroImage, Vol. 26, No. 4, 15.07.2005, p. 1086-1096.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ferretti, A, Caulo, M, Del Gratta, C, Di Matteo, R, Merla, A, Montorsi, F, Pizzella, V, Pompa, P, Rigatti, P, Rossini, PM, Salonia, A, Tartaro, A & Romani, GL 2005, 'Dynamics of male sexual arousal: Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI', NeuroImage, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 1086-1096. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.03.025
Ferretti, Antonio ; Caulo, Massimo ; Del Gratta, Cosimo ; Di Matteo, Rosalia ; Merla, Arcangelo ; Montorsi, Francesco ; Pizzella, Vittorio ; Pompa, Paolo ; Rigatti, Patrizio ; Rossini, Paolo Maria ; Salonia, Andrea ; Tartaro, Armando ; Romani, Gian Luca. / Dynamics of male sexual arousal : Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI. In: NeuroImage. 2005 ; Vol. 26, No. 4. pp. 1086-1096.
@article{e4949cb4f87e4a1dacd9cff3d22a0b7e,
title = "Dynamics of male sexual arousal: Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI",
abstract = "The peripheral mechanisms of male sexual arousal are well known. Recently, neuroimaging techniques, such as PET or fMRI, allowed the investigation of the subjacent cerebral mechanisms. In ten healthy subjects, we have simultaneously recorded fMRI images of brain activation elicited by viewing erotic scenes, and the time course of penile tumescence by means of a custom-built MRI-compatible pneumatic cuff. We have compared activation elicited by video clips with a long duration, that led to sexual arousal and penile erection, and activation elicited by briefly presented still images, that did induce sexual arousal without erection. This comparison and the use of the time course of penile tumescence in video clips allowed to perform a time resolved data analysis and to correlate different patterns of brain activation with different phases of sexual response. The activation maps highlighted a complex neural circuit involved in sexual arousal. Of this circuit, only a few areas (anterior cingulate, insula, amygdala, hypothalamus, and secondary somatosensory cortices) were specifically correlated with penile erection. Finally, these areas showed distinct dynamic relationships with the time course of sexual response. These differences might correspond to different roles in the development and appraisal of the sexual response. These findings shed light on the psychophysiology of male sexuality and open new perspectives for the diagnosis, therapy, and possible rehabilitation of sexual dysfunction.",
keywords = "Brain mapping, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Psychophysiology of sexual behavior",
author = "Antonio Ferretti and Massimo Caulo and {Del Gratta}, Cosimo and {Di Matteo}, Rosalia and Arcangelo Merla and Francesco Montorsi and Vittorio Pizzella and Paolo Pompa and Patrizio Rigatti and Rossini, {Paolo Maria} and Andrea Salonia and Armando Tartaro and Romani, {Gian Luca}",
year = "2005",
month = "7",
day = "15",
doi = "10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.03.025",
language = "English",
volume = "26",
pages = "1086--1096",
journal = "NeuroImage",
issn = "1053-8119",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Dynamics of male sexual arousal

T2 - Distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI

AU - Ferretti, Antonio

AU - Caulo, Massimo

AU - Del Gratta, Cosimo

AU - Di Matteo, Rosalia

AU - Merla, Arcangelo

AU - Montorsi, Francesco

AU - Pizzella, Vittorio

AU - Pompa, Paolo

AU - Rigatti, Patrizio

AU - Rossini, Paolo Maria

AU - Salonia, Andrea

AU - Tartaro, Armando

AU - Romani, Gian Luca

PY - 2005/7/15

Y1 - 2005/7/15

N2 - The peripheral mechanisms of male sexual arousal are well known. Recently, neuroimaging techniques, such as PET or fMRI, allowed the investigation of the subjacent cerebral mechanisms. In ten healthy subjects, we have simultaneously recorded fMRI images of brain activation elicited by viewing erotic scenes, and the time course of penile tumescence by means of a custom-built MRI-compatible pneumatic cuff. We have compared activation elicited by video clips with a long duration, that led to sexual arousal and penile erection, and activation elicited by briefly presented still images, that did induce sexual arousal without erection. This comparison and the use of the time course of penile tumescence in video clips allowed to perform a time resolved data analysis and to correlate different patterns of brain activation with different phases of sexual response. The activation maps highlighted a complex neural circuit involved in sexual arousal. Of this circuit, only a few areas (anterior cingulate, insula, amygdala, hypothalamus, and secondary somatosensory cortices) were specifically correlated with penile erection. Finally, these areas showed distinct dynamic relationships with the time course of sexual response. These differences might correspond to different roles in the development and appraisal of the sexual response. These findings shed light on the psychophysiology of male sexuality and open new perspectives for the diagnosis, therapy, and possible rehabilitation of sexual dysfunction.

AB - The peripheral mechanisms of male sexual arousal are well known. Recently, neuroimaging techniques, such as PET or fMRI, allowed the investigation of the subjacent cerebral mechanisms. In ten healthy subjects, we have simultaneously recorded fMRI images of brain activation elicited by viewing erotic scenes, and the time course of penile tumescence by means of a custom-built MRI-compatible pneumatic cuff. We have compared activation elicited by video clips with a long duration, that led to sexual arousal and penile erection, and activation elicited by briefly presented still images, that did induce sexual arousal without erection. This comparison and the use of the time course of penile tumescence in video clips allowed to perform a time resolved data analysis and to correlate different patterns of brain activation with different phases of sexual response. The activation maps highlighted a complex neural circuit involved in sexual arousal. Of this circuit, only a few areas (anterior cingulate, insula, amygdala, hypothalamus, and secondary somatosensory cortices) were specifically correlated with penile erection. Finally, these areas showed distinct dynamic relationships with the time course of sexual response. These differences might correspond to different roles in the development and appraisal of the sexual response. These findings shed light on the psychophysiology of male sexuality and open new perspectives for the diagnosis, therapy, and possible rehabilitation of sexual dysfunction.

KW - Brain mapping

KW - Functional magnetic resonance imaging

KW - Psychophysiology of sexual behavior

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=20444374123&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=20444374123&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.03.025

DO - 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.03.025

M3 - Article

C2 - 15961048

AN - SCOPUS:20444374123

VL - 26

SP - 1086

EP - 1096

JO - NeuroImage

JF - NeuroImage

SN - 1053-8119

IS - 4

ER -