The emotion control center of the brain, the amygdala, shows significantly higher levels of activation in males viewing sexual visual stimuli than females viewing the same images, according to a Center for Behavioral Neuroscience study led by Emory University psychologists Stephan Hamann and Kim Wallen. The finding, which appears in the April edition of "Nature Neuroscience," demonstrates how men and women process visual sexual stimuli differently, and it may explain gender variations in reproductive behavior.
The study adds to a growing body of research in animals and humans that indicates the amygdala plays a central role in male sexual behavior, Hamann says.
"This study helps us get closer to understanding the fundamental functions of this area of the brain," Hamann says. In addition to adding to basic neuroscience knowledge, the findings potentially could have applications that could help scientists develop therapeutic measures to help people overcome sexual addictions and other dysfunctions, he says.
Beverly Cox Clark | EurekAlert!
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