Inhibit my disinhibition: The role of the inferior frontal cortex in sexual inhibition and the modulatory influence of sexual excitation proneness

Geraldine Rodriguez*, Alexander T. Sack, Marieke Dewitte, Teresa Schuhmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Sexual behaviour is the result of an interplay between distinct neural inhibitory and excitatory mechanisms. Individual differences in sexual excitation and sexual inhibition are proposed to play an important role in the processes sustaining the regulation of sexual behaviour. While much research has focused on the neural correlates of response inhibition, highlighting a prominent role of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), very little is known regarding the neural mechanisms underlying different aspects of sexual inhibition. Here, we experimentally combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to: (i) test the functional role of IFG during motivational and cognitive sexual inhibition; and (ii) reveal whether this IFG involvement in sexual inhibitory processes depends on sexual excitation and sexual inhibition as traits. Twenty-two participants performed an Approach-Avoidance (AA) and a Negative Affective Priming (NAP) paradigm to assess motivational and cognitive sexual inhibition respectively. Our fMRI study showed IFG being selectively activated during cognitive but not motivational sexual inhibition. Importantly, the level of this neural activity was modulated by individual sexual excitation scores. Interestingly, a transient disruption of IFG activity using TMS led to an improvement in cognitive, not motivational, sexual inhibition, but only when accounting for individual sexual excitation scores. These findings clearly document that sexual excitation modulates IFG activity levels during cognitive sexual inhibition, and at the same time determines the effects of TMS on IFG by improving cognitive control exclusively for individuals with high sexual excitation scores. These findings provide new insights regarding the functional role of IFG, and underscore the relevance of individual psychological differences in understanding the brain mechanisms underlying socioaffective processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number300
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • sexual inhibition
  • sexual excitation
  • inferior frontal gyrus
  • brain stimulation
  • approach-avoidance negative priming
  • response inhibition
  • THETA-BURST STIMULATION
  • DUAL CONTROL MODEL
  • RESPONSE-INHIBITION
  • ARTIFACT REDUCTION
  • PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • COGNITIVE CONTROL
  • HUMAN MALES
  • MEN
  • AROUSAL
  • PERSONALITY

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