Added: Ezra Mccauley - Date: 01.11.2021 12:27 - Views: 48316 - Clicks: 7436
Not exactly an interaction one expects to find in a neuroscience blog, is it? But, prudish social norms aside, sexuality is a very normal part of human life, with the same psychological, biological, and neurological pathways of explaining and exploring it. Despite what college culture would like you to believe, sex is a highly emotional subject and experience, in that it evokes and is influenced by emotional processes.
This blog therefore looks to explore sexuality from various perspectives, with an emphasis on the role of emotion. On this first post, I explore how emotions and sexual arousal interact. But— what is sexual arousal? And what does this have to do with emotion? Arousal includes physiological activation, such as increased blood flow to the genitals, erection of nipples, vaginal lubrication, swelling of the testes, and pupil dilation.
The former include the superior and inferior parietal lobes, the lateral occipital cortex, the medial prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the insula. Because sexual arousal is recognized to have a strong emotional component, one group of scientists Walter et al. Their analysis found that, out of all the brain regions cited above, only the hypothalamus and ventral striatum VS were independently involved in specific sexual processing, with the peri-genual Anterior Cingulate Cortex pgACC playing a modulatory role between affect and sexual arousal.
This means that the activation in all the other regions was due to other types of processing, including that of general emotional arousal. The key point to take out of this study is not that the other studies were lying to us and that those other brain regions have nothing to do with sexual arousal, but the realization that life is no lab experiment and that in it all those brain regions are activated and involved in sexual arousal because all those other things, such as body recognition, pleasure, and emotion are part of the experience being sexually aroused.
This is particularly evident when one examines the concrete ways in which affect influences sexual arousal responses. As one would expect, studies have found that when people are primed to be in a good mood, they experience higher subjective and physiological sexual arousal Koukounas and McCabe, Studies on negative affect have been more mixed. However, these findings have important real-world consequences, such as informing treatment for individuals with sexual dysfunctions.
This would explain why diminished sexual response is common in depression, a condition characterized by low positive affect, than in anxiety, which is a condition of high negative arousal. In fact, anxiety has been shown to facilitate sexual arousal, presumably because as a state of high physical arousal, it exacerbates sexual arousal. At the same time, studies have shown how sexual arousal influence affect, such as by diminishing stress levels Hamilton et al.
So, what did we learn? Hamilton, L. Cortisol, sexual arousal, and affect in response to sexual stimuli. The journal of sexual medicine , 5 9 , Koukounas, E. Sexual and emotional variables influencing sexual responses to erotica: A psychophysiological investigation. Archives of Sexual Behavior , 30, — Mouras, H. Functional neuroanatomy of sexual arousal. Male sexual dysfunction: Pathophysiology and treatment. Peterson, Z. Ambivalent affect and sexual response: The impact of co-occurring positive and negative emotions on subjective and physiological sexual responses to erotic stimuli.
Archives of Sexual Behavior , 36 6 , Walter, M. Distinguishing specific sexual and general emotional effects in fMRI—Subcortical and cortical arousal during erotic picture viewing. Neuroimage , 40 4 , I like your point about how sexual arousal has emotional and non-emotional components and that this is potentially important in terms of understanding the processes that are carried out in the brain regions that are implicated. You must be logged in to post a comment.
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Being turned on and emotions