Frontal Cortex Dysfunction May Contribute to Compulsive Sexual Behavior
Philadelphia, PA, 10 June, 2010 - Sex “addiction” is a concept that has had particularly high visibility recently with the publicity associated with Tiger Woods. Persons with addictive or compulsive disorders frequently display an inability to inhibit behaviors once they become maladaptive, despite adverse consequences of their behavior. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a brain region involved in decision-making and behavioral flexibility, and it has been identified as a potential mediator of behavioral inhibition.
In a new study, Dr. Lique Coolen and colleagues tested whether the mPFC is involved in inhibition of sexual behavior when associated with aversive outcomes. Using a carefully-designed experimental paradigm in rats, the researchers found that lesions of the mPFC result in compulsive sexual behavior. In contrast, lesions did not alter sexual performance or the learning associated with reward or aversive stimuli. This indicates that intact mPFC function is not required for normal expression of sexual behavior.
Instead, the results support the hypothesis that the mPFC regulates the execution of behavioral inhibition toward sexual behavior once this behavior is associated with aversive outcomes. The animals with mPFC lesions were likely capable of forming the associations with aversive outcomes of their behavior but lacked the ability to suppress seeking of sexual reward in the face of aversive consequences.
Collectively, these data suggest a general role for the mPFC in regulating the compulsive seeking of reward, and may contribute to a better understanding of a common pathology underlying impulse control disorders.
Compulsive sexual behavior has a high prevalence of co-morbidity with psychiatric disorders, including substance abuse and mood disorders. The current study suggests that mPFC dysfunction may contribute to sexual risk-taking or to compulsive seeking of sexual behavior. Although thought-provoking, we do not yet know whether these findings apply to humans.
# # #
Notes to Editors
The article is “Lesions of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex Cause Maladaptive Sexual Behavior in Male Rats” by Jon F. Davis, Maarten Loos, Andrea Di Sebastiano, Jennifer Brown, Michael Lehman, and Lique M. Coolen. Davis, Loos, Brown, Lehman and Coolen were affiliated with the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio at the time part of the study was conducted. Lehman and Coolen, in addition to Di Sebastiano, are affiliated with the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. The article will appear in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 67, Issue 12 (June 15, 2010), published by Elsevier.
The authors’ disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.
Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Maureen Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.
About Biological Psychiatry
This international rapid-publication journal is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It covers a broad range of topics in psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length and Brief Reports of novel results, Commentaries, Case Studies of unusual significance, and Correspondence and Comments judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise Reviews and Editorials that focus on topics of current research and interest are also published rapidly.
Biological Psychiatry is ranked 4th out of the 101 Psychiatry titles and 14th out of 219 Neurosciences titles on the 2008 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Scientific.
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com
Strategic Marketing Manager - Elsevier