Current Sexual Health Reports

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 124–131 | Cite as

Compulsive Sexual Behavior in Humans and Preclinical Models

  • Lindsey B. Kuiper
  • Lique M. CoolenEmail author
Preclinical and Psychophysiology (F Guarraci and L Marson, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Preclinical and Psychophysiology


Purpose of Review

Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is widely regarded as a “behavioral addiction,” and is a major threat to quality of life and both physical and mental health. However, CSB has been slow to be recognized clinically as a diagnosable disorder. CSB is co-morbid with affective disorders as well as substance use disorders, and recent neuroimaging studies have demonstrated shared or overlapping neural pathologies disorders, especially in brain regions controlling motivational salience and inhibitory control.

Recent Findings

Clinical neuroimaging studies are reviewed that have identified structural and/or function changes in prefrontal cortex, amygdala, striatum, and thalamus in individuals suffering from CSB. A preclinical model to study the neural underpinnings of CSB in male rats is discussed consisting of a conditioned aversion procedure to examine seeking of sexual behavior despite known negative consequences. Using this preclinical model, a role of the medial prefrontal cortex was identified, including neural plasticity during comorbidity of CSB and psychostimulant abuse.


This review summarizes recent human behavioral and neuroimaging studies, in addition to preclinical models that can be used to study the underlying neurobiology of CSB.


Compulsive sexual behavior Hypersexuality Addiction Prefrontal cortex Limbic system Sexual behavior 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major Importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology and Anatomical SciencesThe University of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and BiophysicsThe University of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA

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