Female Genital Stimulation Acts on Distinct Sensory Areas

fMRI shows specific cortical regions activated by clitoral, vaginal, cervical, nipple stimulation

MONDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Clitoral, vaginal, cervical, and nipple self-stimulation activates specific, distinct sensory cortical regions, according to a study published online July 28 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Barry R. Komisaruk, Ph.D., from Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map the sensory cortical fields of the clitoris, vagina, cervix, and nipple and identify the neural system's underlying sexual response. Responses to thumb and great-toe (hallux) stimulation were also mapped as points of reference. The fMRI of brain regions activated by the various sensory signals was the main outcome measure.

The investigators found that differentiable sensory cortical regions, all clustered in the medial cortex (medial paracentral lobule) were activated by clitoral, vaginal, and cervical self-stimulation. The genital sensory cortex (as well as the thoracic) region of the homunculus map was activated by nipple self-stimulation.

"The present findings provide evidence that, rather than vaginal stimulation being just an indirect means of stimulating the clitoris, vaginal and cervical stimulation per se activate specific sensory cortical regions that are distinct from the clitoral sensory projection," the authors write.

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