Gender Difference in Brain Activation to Audio-Visual Sexual Stimulation

Do Women and Men Experience the Same Level of Arousal in Response to the Same Video Clip?

WS Chung; SM Lim; JH Yoo; H Yoon


Int J Impot Res. 2013;25(4):138-142. 

In This Article

Materials and Methods

All fMRI procedures and data collection were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Clinical Research Center of our hospital.

Study participants included 20 physically and mentally healthy, right-handed volunteers (10 men and 10 women) ranging in age from 20–29 years. Participants were sexually active without any significant sexual problems. To screen for mental illness, stress and anxiety that can affect sexual response, all subjects filled out questionnaires: Symptom Check List-90-Revision (SCL-90-R), Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI), International Index of Erection Function (IIEF-5) for men and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) for women. Female subjects who were not in the ovulation or menstruation phases of their cycle were selected to avoid the cyclic hormonal influence on sexual response.

During fMRI examination, subjects viewed erotic videos designed for viewing inside the monitor of the patient's MRI booth. The AVS method consisted of 270 s of a random mixture of color bars, non-erotic (natural environmental view) and erotic stimulation. We prepared two types of erotic stimulation. Type 1 (mood type) was erotic, but had a story line and was focused on mood and relationship development. Type 2 (physical type) was typical of commercial pornography with a focus on physical contact, sexual activity and direct exposure of genitalia.

All subjects viewed these two types of erotic videos in a random order without receiving any prior information about the videos. After viewing each type of video, subjects were instructed to score from 1–5 their degree of sexual arousal, with a higher score indicating greater sexual arousal.

Data from each pixel of the brain fMRI signal was collected and integrated. These data were reconstructed according to areas of activation and deactivation, and the results were compared and analyzed statistically between men and women. Data were considered significantly different by Mann–Whitney U testing with a P-value <0.05.