Psychophysiological correlates of sexually and non-sexually motivated attention to film clips in a workload task

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Author list: Carvalho, S., Leite, J., Galdo-Álvarez, S., Gonçalves, Ó.F.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Publication year: 2011
Journal: PLoS ONE (1932-6203)
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 12
Start page: e29530
Number of pages: 8
ISSN: 1932-6203
eISSN: 1932-6203
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Abstract

Some authors have speculated that the cognitive component (P3) of the Event-Related Potential (ERP) can function as a psychophysiological measure of sexual interest. The aim of this study was to determine if the P3 ERP component in a workload task can be used as a specific and objective measure of sexual motivation by comparing the neurophysiologic response to stimuli of motivational relevance with different levels of valence and arousal. A total of 30 healthy volunteers watched different films clips with erotic, horror, social-positive and social-negative content, while answering an auditory oddball paradigm. Erotic film clips resulted in larger interference when compared to both the social-positive and auditory alone conditions. Horror film clips resulted in the highest levels of interference with smaller P3 amplitudes than erotic and also than social-positive, social-negative and auditory alone condition. No gender differences were found. Both horror and erotic film clips significantly decreased heart rate (HR) when compared to both social-positive and social-negative films. The erotic film clips significantly increased the skin conductance level (SCL) compared to the social-negative films. The horror film clips significantly increased the SCL compared to both social-positive and social-negative films. Both the highly arousing erotic and non-erotic (horror) movies produced the largest decrease in the P3 amplitude, a decrease in the HR and an increase in the SCL. These data support the notion that this workload task is very sensitive to the attentional resources allocated to the film clip, although they do not act as a specific index of sexual interest. Therefore, the use of this methodology seems to be of questionable utility as a specific measure of sexual interest or as an objective measure of the severity of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. © 2011 Carvalho et al.


Keywords

Psychology, Psychophysiology


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