Alcohol Suppresses the Electroencephalographic Response to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Young Men


Although the combination of alcohol and sex is frequently observed in human social interaction, many questions concerning alcohol’s effects on the processing of sexual stimuli and brain functionality remain unanswered. Erotic films eliciting sexual arousal in humans and affect electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. This study examines the effects of alcohol on cortical EEG activity in young men while viewing an erotic film. Heterosexual males participated in an independent alcohol/placebo group protocol. Thirty-five minutes after beverage ingestion, EEGs were recorded at prefrontal, temporal and parietal derivations in three conditions: baseline, and while watching erotic and neutral films. During the observation of erotic films, only the participants who drank the placebo beverage showed a decrease in alpha1 and an increase in the fast frequencies of the prefrontal regions, as well as a decrease in inter-prefrontal synchronization in the alpha and beta bands. Alcohol suppressed the prefrontal EEG changes associated with watching erotic visual stimuli without affect the sexual arousal. EEG data show that alcohol affecting the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, which could interfere with the adequate processing of visual erotic stimuli. These findings may contribute to improving our understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie alcohol’s effects on the processing of sexual stimuli.

Share and Cite:

M. Hernández-González, A. Sanz-Martin, M. Guevara, C. Amezcua-Gutiérrez and M. Díaz, "Alcohol Suppresses the Electroencephalographic Response to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Young Men," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 2 No. 3, 2012, pp. 363-371. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2012.23041.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] M. L. Cooper and H. K. Orcutt, “Drinking and Sexual Experience on First Dates among Adolescents,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 106, No. 2, 1997, pp. 191-202. Hdoi:10.1037/0021-843X.106.2.191
[2] A. Prince and A. L. Bernard, “Alcohol Use and Safer Sex Behaviors of Students at a Commuter University,” Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, Vol. 43, No. 2, 1998, pp. 1-19.
[3] T. Duka and J. Townshend, “The Priming Effect of Alcohol Pre-Load on Attentional Bias to Alcohol-Related Stimuli,” Psychopharmacology, Vol. 176, No. 3-4, 2004, pp. 353-361. Hdoi:10.1007/s00213-004-1906-7
[4] B. D. Bartholow, M. Pearson, K. J. Sher, L. C. Wieman, M. Fabiani and G. Gratton, “Effects of Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Susceptibility on Cognition: A Psychophysiological Examination,” Biological Psychology, Vol. 64, No. 1-2, 2003, pp. 167-190. Hdoi:10.1016/S0301-0511(03)00108-XH
[5] M. T. Fillmore, C. A. Marczinski and A. M. Bowman, “Acute Tolerance to Alcohol Effects on Inhibitory and Activational Mechanisms of Behavioral Control,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Vol. 66, No. 5, 2005, pp. 663-672.
[6] T. A. Schweizer, M. Vogel-Sprott, J. Danckert, E. A. Roy, A. Skakum and C. E. Broderick, “Neuropsychological Profile of Acute Alcohol Intoxication during Ascending and Descending Blood Alcohol Concentrations,” Neuropsychopharmacology, Vol. 31, No. 6, 2006, pp. 1301-1309.
[7] C. Farris, T. A. Treat and R. J. Viken, “Alcohol Alters Men’s Perceptual and Decisional Processing of Women’s Sexual Interest,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 119, No. 2, 2010, pp. 427-432. Hdoi:10.1037/a0019343
[8] W. H. George and G. A. Marlatt, “The Effects of Alcohol and Anger on Interest in Violence, Erotica, and Deviance,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 95, No. 2, 1986, pp. 150-158. Hdoi:10.1037/0021-843X.95.2.150
[9] W. H. George and J. Norris, “Alcohol, Disinhibition, Sexual Arousal, and Deviant Sexual Behaviour,” Alcohol Health & Research World, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1991, pp. 133-138.
[10] G. M. Farkas and R. C. Rosen, “Effect of Alcohol on Elicited Male Sexual Response,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1976, pp. 265-272.
[11] P. N. S. Hoaken, P. R. Giancola and R. O. Pihl, “Executive Cognitive Functions as Mediators of Alcohol-Related Aggression,” Alcohol and Alcoholism, Vol. 33, No. 1, 1998, pp. 47-54. Hdoi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.alcalc.a008347
[12] H. F. Moselhy, G. Georgiou and A. Kahn, “Frontal Lobe Changes in Alcoholism: A Review of the Literature,” Alcohol and Alcoholism, Vol. 36, No. 5, 2001, pp. 357-368. Hdoi:10.1093/alcalc/36.5.357
[13] M. Beauregard, J. Levesque and P. Bourgouin, “Neural Correlates of Conscious Self-Regulation of Emotion,” Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 21, No. 18, 2001, p. 165.
[14] J. F. Davis, M. Loos, A. R. Di Sebastiano, J. L. Brown, M. N. Lehman and L. M. Coolen, “Lesions of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex Cause Maladaptive Sexual Behavior in Male Rats,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 67, No. 12, 2010, pp. 1199-1204. Hdoi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.12.029
[15] D. Knoch and E. Fehr, “Resisting the Power of Temptations: The Right Prefrontal Cortex and Self-Control,” Annals of the New York Academy of Science, Vol. 1104, 2007, pp. 123-134. Hdoi:10.1196/annals.1390.004H
[16] A. P. Anokhin, S. Golosheykin, E. Sirevaag, S. Kristjansson, J. W. Rohrbaugh and A. C. Heath, “Rapid Discrimination of Visual Scene Content in the Human Brain,” Brain Research, Vol. 1093, No. 1, 2006, pp. 167-177. Hdoi:10.1016/j.brainres.2006.03.108
[17] J. Leon-Carrion, J. F. Martin-Rodriguez, J. Damas-Lopez, K. Pourrezai, K. Izzetoglu, J. M. Barrosoy Martin and M. R. Dominguez-Morales, “A Lasting Post-Stimulus Activation on Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Is Produced When Processing Valence and Arousal in Visual Affective Stimuli,” Neuroscience Letters, Vol. 422, No. 3, 2007, pp. 147-152. Hdoi:10.1016/j.neulet.2007.04.087H
[18] A. Agmo, A. Villalpando, Z. Picker and H. Fernandez, “Lesions of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Sexual Behavior in the Male Rat,” Brain Research, Vol. 696, No. 1-2, 1995, pp. 177-186. Hdoi:10.1016/0006-8993(95)00852-H
[19] M. Hernández-González, C. A. Prieto-Beracoechea, M. Arteaga-Silva and M. A. Guevara, “Different Functionality of the Medial and Orbital Prefrontal Cortex during a Sexually Motivated Task in Rats,” Physiology and Behavior, Vol. 90, No. 2-3, 2007, pp. 450-458. Hdoi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.10.006
[20] J. M. Fuster, “The Prefrontal Cortex: Anatomy, Physiology and Neurophysiology of the Frontal Lobe,” Lippincott-Raven Publishers, Philadelphia, 1997.
[21] N. G. Exton, T. Truong, M. S. Exton, S. A. Wingenfeld, N. Leygarf, B. Saller, U. Hartmannn and M. Schedlowski, “Neuroendrocrine Responses to Film-Induced Sexual Arousal in Men and Women,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2000, pp. 187-199. Hdoi:10.1016/S0306-4530(99)00049-9
[22] E. Koukounas and M. McCabe, “Sexual and Emotional Variables Influencing Sexual Response to Erotica: A Psychopliysiological Investigation,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 30, No. 4, 2001, pp. 393-408. Hdoi:10.1023/A:1010261315767H
[23] E. Koukounas and M. McCabe, “Sexual and Emotional Variables Influencing Sexual Response to Erotica,” Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol. 35, No. 3, 1997, pp. 221-231. Hdoi:10.1016/S0005-7967(96)00097-6
[24] D. W. Briddell, D. C. Rimm, G. R. Caddy, G. Krawitz, D. Sholis and R. J. Wunderlin, “Effects of Alcohol and Cognitive Set on Sexual Arousal to Deviant Stimuli,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 87, No. 4, 1978, pp. 418-430. Hdoi:10.1037/0021-843X.87.4.418
[25] W. H. George, K. C. Davis, J. Norris, J. R. Heiman, R. L. Schacht, S. A. Stoner and K. F. Kajumulo, “Alcohol and Erectile Response: The Effects of High Dosage in the Context of Demands to Maximize Sexual Arousal,” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2006, pp. 461-470. Hdoi:10.1037/1064-1297.14.4.461
[26] H. D. Cohen, R. C. Rosen and L. Goldstein, “Electroencephalographic Laterality Changes during Human Sexual Orgasm,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1976, pp. 189-199. Hdoi:10.1007/BF01541370
[27] A. S. Cohen, R. C. Rosen and L. Goldstein, “EEG Hemispheric Asymmetry during Sexual Arousal: Psychophysiological Patterns in Responsive, Unresponsive, and Dysfunctional Men,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 94, No. 4, 1985, pp. 580-590. Hdoi:10.1037/0021-843X.94.4.580
[28] M. Hernández-González, C. Amezcua, A. Sanz-Martin, K. Rivera-Sánchez and M. A. Guevara, “Sexual Arousal Decreases the Functional Syncronization between Cortical Areas in Young Men,” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 2012, in press.
[29] E. Schwartz, P. Kielholz, L. Goldberg, U. Gilsdorf, M. Hofstetter, D. Ladewig, P. C. Miest, G. Reggiani and R. Richter, “Alcohol-Induced Biphasic Background and Stimulus-Elicited EEG Changes in Relation to Blood Alcohol Levels,” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy and Toxicology, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1981, pp. 102-111.
[30] A. Sanz-Martin, M. A. Guevara, C. Amezcua, G. Santana and M. Hernández-González, “Effects of Red Wine on the Electrical Activity and Functional Coupling between Prefrontal-Parietal Cortices in Young Men,” Appetite, Vol. 57, No. 1, 2011, pp. 84-93. Hdoi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.04.004
[31] V. Zsigmond, “The Long Shadow,” Israel, 1992.
[32] J. Leslie, “The Catwoman,” USA, 1988.
[33] A. C. Kinsey, W. R. Pomeroy and C. E. Martin, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” Saunders, Philadelphia, 1948.
[34] C. A. McGahuey, A. J. Gelenberg, C. A. Laukes, F. A. Moreno, P. L. Delgado, K. M. McKnight and R. Manber, “The Arizona Sexual Experience Scale (ASEX): Reliability and Validity,” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Vol. 26, No. 1, 2000, pp. 25-40. Hdoi:10.1080/009262300278623
[35] M. Ruiz-Díaz, M. Hernández-González, M. A. Guevara, C. Amezcua and A. ?gmo, “Prefrontal EEG Correlation during Tower of Hanoi and WCST Performance: Effect of Emotional Visual Stimuli,” Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012, in press. Hdoi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02782.xH
[36] H. H. Jasper, “Report of the Committee on Methods of Clinical Examination in Electroencephalography,” Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, Vol. 10, 1958, pp. 370-371. Hdoi:10.1016/0013-4694(58)90053-1
[37] M. A. Guevara, J. Ramos, M. Hernández-González and M. Corsi-Cabrera, “Captusen: A System for the Computerized Acquisition of EEG and Event-Related Potentials,” Mexican Journal of Psychology, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2000, p. 77.
[38] M. A. Guevara and M. Hernández-González, “EEGMAGIC: Program to Analyze Electroencephalographic Signals,” Mexican Journal of Biomedical Engineering, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2009, pp. 41-53.
[39] D. W. Briddell and G. T. Wilson, “Effects of Alcohol and Expectancy Set on Male Sexual Arousal,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 85, No. 2, 1976, pp. 225-234. Hdoi:10.1037/0021-843X.85.2.225H
[40] D. B. Abrams and G. T. Wilson, “Alcohol, Sexual Arousal, and Self-Control,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 45, No. 1, 1983, pp. 188-198. Hdoi:10.1037/0022-3514.45.1.188H
[41] J. T. Coult, “Neural Correlates of Attention and Arousal: Insights from Electrophysiology, Functional Neuroimaging and Psychopharmacology,” Progress in Neurobiology, Vol. 55, No. 4, 1998, pp. 343-361. Hdoi:10.1016/S0301-0082(98)00011-2
[42] E. Neidermeyer, “The Normal EEG of the Waking Adult,” In: E. Neidermeyer and F. Lopes Da Silva, Eds., Electroencephalography: Basic Principles, Clinical Applications, and Related Fields, 4th Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 1999, pp. 149-173.
[43] J. L. Andreassi, “Psychophysiology: Human Behavior & Physiological Response,” Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Mahwah, 2000.
[44] J. Ramos-Loyo, A. A. Gonzalez-Garrido, C. Amezcua and M. A. Guevara, “Relationship between Resting Alpha Activity and the ERPs Obtained during a Highly Demanding Selective Attention Task,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 54, No. 3, 2004, pp. 251-262. Hdoi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2004.05.008H
[45] M. I. Posner and M. E. Raichle “Images of Mind,” 2nd Edition, Scientific American Library, New York, 1997.
[46] A. Wrobel, “Beta Activity: A Carrier for Visual Attention,” Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2000, pp. 247-260.
[47] M. M. Lansbergen, M. Arns, M. van Dongen-Boomsma, D. Spronk and J. K. Buitelaar, “The Increase in Theta/ Beta Ratio on Resting-State EEG in Boys with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Is Mediated by Slow Alpha Peak Frequency,” Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2011, pp. 47-52. Hdoi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.08.004
[48] K. M. Spencer and J. Polich, “Poststimulus EEG Spectral Analysis and P300: Attention, Task, and Probability,” Psychophysiology, Vol. 36, No. 2, 1999, pp. 220-232. Hdoi:10.1111/1469-8986.3620220
[49] J. C. Shaw, “Intention as a Component of the Alpha-Rhythm Response to Mental Activity,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 24, No. 1-2, 1996, pp. 7-23. Hdoi:10.1016/S0167-8760(96)00052-9
[50] J. J. Curtin, C. J. Patrick, A. R. Lang, J. T. Cacioppo and N. Birbaumer, “Alcohol Effects Emotion through Cognition,” Psychological Science, Vol. 12, No. 6, 2001, pp. 527-531. Hdoi:10.1111/1467-9280.00397H
[51] C. Ehlers, T. L. Wall and M. A. Schuckit, “EEG Spectral Characteristics Following Ethanol Administration in Young Man,” Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, Vol. 73, No. 3, 1989, pp. 179-187. Hdoi:10.1016/0013-4694(89)90118-1H
[52] J. J. van Lankveld and F. T. Smulders, “The Effect of Visual Sexual Content on the Event-Related Potential,” Biological Psychology, Vol. 79, No. 2, 2008, pp. 200-208. Hdoi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.04.016
[53] K. E. Briggs and F. H. Martin, “Affective Picture Proc-essing and Motivational Relevance: Arousal and Valence Effects on ERPs in an Oddball Task,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 72, No. 3, 2009, pp. 299-306. Hdoi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2009.01.009
[54] T. Harmony, T. Fernandez, J. Silva, J. Bernal, L. Diaz-Comas, A. Reyes, E. Marosi and M. Rodriguez, “EEG Delta Activity: An Indicator of Attention to Internal Processing during Performance of Mental Tasks,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 24, No. 1-2, 1996, pp. 161-171. Hdoi:10.1016/S0167-8760(96)00053-0
[55] T. Harmony, T. Fernández, J. Silva, J. Bosch, P. Valdés, A. Fernández-Bouzas, L. Galan, E. Aubert and D. Rodriguez, “Do Specific EEG Frequencies Indicate Different Processes during Mental Calculation?” Neuroscience Letters, Vol. 266, No. 1, 1999, pp. 25-28. Hdoi:10.1016/S0304-3940(99)00244-X
[56] W. Dimpfel, W. Wedekind and I. Keplinger, “Gender Difference in Electrical Brain Activity during Presentation of Various Film Excerpts with Different Emotional Content,” European Journal of Medical Research, Vol. 8, No. 5, 2003, pp. 192-198.
[57] D. M. Tucker and S. L. Dawson, “Asymmetric EEG Changes as Method Actors Generated Emotions,” Biological Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1984, pp. 63-75. Hdoi:10.1016/0301-0511(84)90011-5
[58] M. Bocher, R. Chisin, Y. Parag, N. Freedman, Y. Meir Weil, H. Lester, E. Mishani and O. Bonne, “Cerebral Activation Associated with Sexual Arousal in Response to a Pornographic Clip: A 15O-H2O PET Study in Hetero-sexual Men,” NeuroImage, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2001, pp. 105-117. Hdoi:10.1006/nimg.2001.0794
[59] S. T. Hamann, R. A. Herman, C. L. Nolan and K. Wallen, “Men and Women Differ in Amygdale Response to Visual Sexual Stimuli,” Nature Neroscience, Vol. 7, 2004, pp. 411-416. Hdoi:10.1038/nn1208
[60] B. A. Arnow, J. E. Desmond, L. L. Banner, G. H. Glover, A. Solomon, M. L. Polan, T. F. Lue and S. W. Atlas, “Brain Activation and Sexual Arousal in Healthy, Heterosexual Males,” Brain, Vol. 125, No. 5, 2002, pp. 1014-1023. Hdoi:10.1093/brain/awf108
[61] E. O. Flores-Gutiérrez, J. L. Díaz, F. A. Barrios, M. A. Guevara, Y. Del Río-Portilla, M. Corsi-Cabrera and E. O. Flores-Gutiérrez, “Differential Alpha Coherence Hemispheric Patterns in Men and Women during Pleasant and Unpleasant Musical Emotions,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 71, No. 1, 2009, pp. 43-49.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.