Assessment of cerebrocortical areas associated with sexual arousal in depressive women using functional MR imaging

Jong Chul Yang, Kwangsung Park, Sung Jong Eun, Moo Suk Lee, Jin Sang Yoon, Il Seon Shin, Yong Ku Kim, Tae Woong Chung, Heoung Keun Kang, Gwang Woo Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Mental illness is closely related with sexual dysfunction. A number of investigators have reported that depressive women have difficulties in sexual arousal. Aim. The purpose of this study was to compare the cerebrocortical regions associated with sexual arousal between the healthy and depressive women using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) based on the blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) technique. Methods. Together with nine healthy women (mean age: 40.3), seven depressive women (mean age: 41.7 years, mean Beck Depression Inventory: 35.6, mean Hamilton Rating Scale Depression-17: 34.9) underwent fMRI examinations using a 1.5T MR scanner (Signa Horizon; GE Medical Systems, Milwaukee, WI, USA). The fMRI data were obtained from seven oblique planes using gradient-echo EPI. Sexual stimulation paradigm began with a 1-minute rest and then 4-minute stimulation using an erotic video film. The brain activation maps and their resulting quantification were analyzed by the statistical parametric mapping (SPM99) program. The number of pixels activated by each task was used as brain activity, where the significance of the differences was evaluated by using independent t -test. Main Outcome Measures. We measured brain activation areas using BOLD-based fMRI with visual sexual stimulation in healthy volunteers and depressive patients. Results. Healthy women were significantly (P < 0.05) activated in the regions of middle occipital gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, insula, hypothalamus, septal area, anterior cingulate gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, thalamus, and amygdala by erotic visual stimulation. In comparison with the healthy women, the depressive women gave lower activity, especially in the brain regions of hypothalamus (55.5:3.0), septal area (49.6:8.6), anterior cingulate gyrus (23.5:11.0), and parahippocampal gyrus (18.2:5.8). Conclusions. This preliminary study performed by fMRI gives valuable information on differentiation of the activated cerebral regions associated with visually evoked sexual arousal between healthy and depressive women. In addition, these findings might be useful to understand neural mechanisms for female sexual dysfunction in depressive women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-609
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant (R01-2004-000-10912-0) of the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation. This study was partially supported by grants of the Korea Health 21 R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, and the RRC (Biohousing Research Institute), Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, Republic of Korea (A050174).


  • Depression
  • Female sexual arousal
  • Functional MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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