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Current Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 0929-8673
ISSN (Online): 1875-533X

Review Article

Visual Sexual Stimulation and Erection, a Brief Review with New fMRI Data

Author(s): Sharon L. Wu, Maggie S.M. Chow, Jiang Y. L., Jingjin Yang, Hao Zhou and David T. Yew*

Volume 24, Issue 11, 2017

Page: [1139 - 1146] Pages: 8

DOI: 10.2174/0929867323666161213102528

Price: $65


This review examines brain sites involved in sexual stimulation. New data on brain activation sites in individuals having erections concomitant with visual erotic stimulation were documented. The activation was chiefly at the midbrain around the cerebral peduncle, and in the pons centering on the tegmentum, they are indicated by blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) images captured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The cerebellum and inferior temporal lobe were activated more extensively in individuals viewing pornographic movie with a concomitant erection than those without. Similarly, individuals with erection had activations in the midbrain and pons, while drug addicts had neither erections nor any of these brainstem active sites. From our observation in the new data, we deduced three possible transmitters might be involved in erection: i) cholinergic neurons forming descending pathways and associated with motor activity ii) gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), directly or indirectly via decreasing pathways, modulating autonomic vascular responses in the penile vasculature causing the filling of blood iii) GABA decreases to stimulate dopamine increase in ventral tegmentum of the brain, leading to euphoric responses.

Keywords: Penile erection, fMRI, visual sex stimulation, brain activation, neurotransmitters, drug addicts.

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