A Combined Psycho-pharmacological and Brain Imaging Study of Human Sexuality


The current study combines a molecular genetic perspective, self report and brain imaging to the study of human sexuality in control subjects and individuals from a sexual disorder clinic. The investigators hypothesize that the variability in components of the brain dopaminergic system expressed in the mesolimbic reward system can explain variability in human sexuality, especially in desire and pleasure associated with sex.

Study Type

  • Study Type: Observational
  • Study Design
    • Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional
  • Study Primary Completion Date: October 2011

Detailed Description

We intend to combine molecular genetics of the dopamine receptors (D2, D3 D4 and D5) and brain imaging using 11 C Raclopride in Positron Emission Tomography (PET). 11 C Raclopride is a ligand which binds to the dopamine receptor D2 and can measure dopamine release during pleasure or anticipatory reward associated with sex. The current proposal will measure changes in DRD2 receptor occupancy using 11 C Raclopride following explicit visual sexual desire cues in healthy control subjects and individuals who suffer from sexual dysfunction. This is in order to determine how individual genotypes modulate dopamine release in vivo in the human brain.

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • 1
    • Healthy control subjects (n=20) age 21-65 who do not suffer from a psychiatric diagnosis or neurological damage, are under age, or are pregnant women
  • 2
    • 20 patients who suffer from sexual disorder (reduced sexual desire or sexual function) from a sexual disorder clinic, age 21-65, without any other psychiatric disorder, neurological damage, are not under age or pregnant women.

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Brain Imaging data of DRD2 receptor occupancy during watching a sex videotape and neutral videotape
    • Time Frame: 2 Brain imaging sessions a week apart

Secondary Measures

  • Questionnaire ratings of human sexuality, pleasure, and anticipatory reward
    • Time Frame: Taken during brain scans

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Healthy volunteers and patients
  • Age 21-65
  • Male or female

Exclusion Criteria

  • Psychiatric diagnosis/psychosis
  • Neurological damage associated with loss of consciousness
  • Infectious disease HIV
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • Hyperactivity treated with ritalin
  • Pregnant women
  • Under age

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 21 Years

Maximum Age: 65 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Hadassah Medical Organization
  • Collaborator
    • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Prof. Roland Chisin, Hadassah Medical Organization
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Aviv M Weinstein, Ph.D, Principal Investigator, Hadasah Medical Organization, Jerusalem Israel

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