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Psychobiology of Sexuality

  • Fotini Ferenidou
  • Loucas Athanasiadis
  • Kostas N. Fountoulakis
Chapter

Abstract

Sexuality is an important component of human personality and behavior. Its development follows a multifactorial model, since psychological, biological, and sociocultural characteristics play a major role. The majority of basic research mainly comes from animals, while epigenetic, cognitive, and sociocultural factors play an important role in humans. The hypothalamus seems to be the main brain structure involved in sexual behavior, while various of its areas such as the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area, the median preoptic area, the ventromedial nucleus, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, etc. are sexually differentiated in humans. Androgenization is mainly based on steroid action during the sensitive period of brain development in the fetus, while also other factors (e.g., hormone and neurotransmitter metabolism) play a role in the development of sexual identity and orientation. Central nervous system dimorphisms regarding the regions that modulate sexual function are also a biological basis for the differences in sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm. Hypothalamic structures, limbic and cortical areas, are activated and deactivated during all the phases of the sexual response cycle, while the role of hormones, neurotransmitters, and its receptors is crucial.

Keywords

Sexuality Sexual differentiation of the brain Sexual orientation Sexual identity Sexual function Sexual response Psychosexuality 

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fotini Ferenidou
    • 1
  • Loucas Athanasiadis
    • 2
  • Kostas N. Fountoulakis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryAeginiteion HospitalAthensGreece
  2. 2.Faculty of Medicine, School of Health SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  3. 3.3rd Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, School of Health SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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