Author(s): N Kozyrev, CR Figley, M Sipski-Alexander, JS Richards, R Bosma, and PW Stroman
Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 38(5): 418-435.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether spinal cord functional magnetic resonance imaging could be used to map neural activity throughout the lower thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spinal cord regions during sexual arousal in healthy men. The authors found that viewing erotic films and genital self-stimulation elicited predominantly increased signal, indicative of amplified neuronal input to the dorsal and ventral horns and in the autonomic preganglionic nuclei of the lower thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spinal cord. In addition, linear regression analyses revealed a number of robust correlations (|R| ≥ 0.7) between signal intensity changes in these spinal cord regions and self-reported ratings of mental and physical sexual arousal. Taken together, these results demonstrate that spinal cord functional magnetic resonance imaging is an effective and sensitive technique for mapping the neural correlates of sexual arousal in the spinal cords of able-bodied men. Most important, the results from this study indicate that spinal cord functional magnetic resonance imaging may have important applications as a clinical tool for assessing and mapping the changes that occur in the spinal cords of men suffering from sexual dysfunction as a result of spinal cord trauma.