Novelty, Conditioning and Attentional Bias to Sexual Rewards


Banca, Paula; Morris, Laurel S.; Mitchell, Simon; Harrison, Neil A.; Potenza, Marc N.; and Voon, Valerie


2016 in Journal of Psychiatric Research, Vol. 72, pp. 91-101

  • This study shows that compulsive sexual behavior individuals have a dysfunctional enhanced preference for sexual novelty possibly mediated by greater cingulate habituation along with a generalized enhancement of conditioning to rewards.
The Internet provides a large source of novel and rewarding stimuli, particularly with respect to sexually explicit materials. Novelty-seeking and cue-conditioning are fundamental processes underlying preference and approach behaviors implicated in disorders of addiction. Here we examine these processes in individuals with compulsive sexual behaviors (CSB), hypothesizing a greater preference for sexual novelty and stimuli conditioned to sexual rewards relative to healthy volunteers. Twenty-two CSB males and forty age-matched... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "We show that CSB individuals had greater choice preference for novel sexual images and for cues conditioned to both sexual and monetary stimuli compared to healthy volunteers. CSB subjects also had greater habituation of dACC activity to repeated sexual versus monetary images. Across all subjects, the degree of dACC habituation to sexual stimuli was associated with greater novelty preference for sexual images."
  • "This study builds on our previous findings of enhanced attentional bias and cue reactivity towards explicit sexual cues in CSB implicating a dACC-(ventral striatal)-amygdalar network. Here, we show that early attentional bias to sexual cues assessed using a dot-probe task was associated with greater approach behaviors towards cues conditioned to sexual images but not novelty preference. Thus, the findings indicate that possible mechanisms underlying early attentional bias to sexual cues observed in CSB subjects are closely aligned with cue-conditioning and enhanced approach behaviors towards sexual conditioned cues."
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