The Amygdala and Sexual Drive

Insights from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Surgery

Amee D. Baird, Sarah J. Wilson, Peter F. Bladin, Michael M. Saling, David C. Reutens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between the amygdala and human sex drive. We compared amygdalar volume in groups of patients with or without sexual changes after temporal lobe resection and in age-matched neurologically normal subjects. Forty-five patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy who underwent surgical resection in the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre completed a semistructured interview and questionnaire relating to sexual outcome after surgery. Volumetric analyses of both amygdalae were conducted on the patients' preoperative T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans and those of 46 neurologically normal controls. Patients who reported a postoperative sexual increase had a significantly larger amygdalar volume contralateral to the site of their resective surgery than patients with a sexual decrease or no change than control subjects. There was a significant positive relationship between contralateral amygdalar volume and the maximum degree of sexual change. We have demonstrated a relationship between contralateral amygdalar volume and sexual outcome in patients undergoing temporal lobe resection. This finding provides evidence for an important role of the amygdala in regulating human sexual behavior. A larger contralateral amygdala may contribute to the expression of increased or improved sexuality after temporal lobe resection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes

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