Sex Addiction and The Medial Prefrontal Cortex

Posted on 6/12/2010 by meg


“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.” This study suggests that people with lesions in the mPFC may be more apt to engage in risky sexual activities or to compulsively seek out sexual behavior.

Sexual addiction refers to the phenomenon in which individuals report being unable to manage their sexual behavior. It has also been called "sexual dependency," and "sexual compulsivity."
Some experts, like the infamous Dr. Drew Pinsky, believe that sexual addiction is literally an addiction, directly analogous to alcohol and drug addictions. On the other hand, some experts believe that sexual addiction is actually a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and refer to it as sexual compulsivity.

While studying whether the mPFC will inhibit sexual behavior in the face of aversive consequences, Dr. Lique Coolen and his team of researchers found that lesions in this area of a rat’s brain resulted in compulsive sexual behavior. Although behavior may be compulsive, these lesions had no effect on sexual performance or the ability to learn from reward or punishment.

However, although the rats with lesions in the mPFC were capable of linking their sexual behavior with negative outcomes, they did not have the ability to restrain their desire to seek sexual rewards.

Even though the study may not have put forth any conclusive data, it does suggest that the mPFC plays an important role in regulating the compulsive seeking of rewards. If nothing else, these results may encourage more research to more fully understand impulse control disorders and/or addictive behaviors. Individuals with compulsive sexual behavior are quite often afflicted with psychiatric disorders as well, such as substance abuse and mood disorders.

Frontal Cortex Dysfunction May Contribute to Compulsive Sexual Behavior, Study Suggests
Sexual addiction

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