The successful inhibition of sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors represents an essential ability for adequate functioning in our daily life. Evidence derived from lesion studies indicates a link between sexual inhibition and the general ability for behavioral and cognitive control. This is further supported by the high comorbidity of sexual compulsivity with other inhibition-related disorders. Here, we aimed at investigating whether sexual and general inhibition recruit overlapping or distinct neural correlates in the brain. Furthermore, we investigated the specificity of two different kinds of sexual inhibition: inhibition of sexually driven motor responses and inhibition of sexual incoming information. To this end, 22 healthy participants underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) while performing a task requiring general response inhibition (Go/No-go), as well as cognitive and motivational sexual inhibition (Negative Affective Priming and Approach-Avoidance task). Our within-subject within-session design enabled the direct statistical comparison between general and sexual inhibitory mechanisms. The general inhibition task recruited mainly prefrontal and insular regions, replicating previous findings. In contrast, the two types of sexual inhibition activated both common and distinct neural networks. Whereas cognitive sexual inhibition engaged the inferior frontal gyrus, the orbitofrontal cortex and the fusiform gyrus, motivational sexual inhibition was characterized by a hypoactivation in the anterolateral prefrontal cortex. Both types of sexual inhibition recruited the inferior frontal gyrus and the inferotemporal cortex. However, the activity of the inferior frontal gyrus did not correlate with behavioral inhibitory scores. These results support the hypothesis of inhibitory processing being an emergent property of a functional network.
- ARTIFACT REDUCTION
- PREFRONTAL CORTEX