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Logo of behbrainBioMed CentralBiomed Central Web Sitesearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBehavioral and Brain Functions : BBFJournal Front Page
Behav Brain Funct. 2008; 4: 30.
Published online Jul 22, 2008. doi:  10.1186/1744-9081-4-30
PMCID: PMC2515325
Does erotic stimulus presentation design affect brain activation patterns? Event-related vs. blocked fMRI designs
Mira Bühler,corresponding author1,2 Sabine Vollstädt-Klein,2 Jane Klemen,3 and Michael N Smolka4
1Behavioural & Clinical Neuroscience Institute, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Site, Cambridge, CB2 3EB, UK
2Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine, J5, 68159, Mannheim, Germany
3NeuroImage Nord, Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Hamburg Eppendorf, Martinistr, 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany
4Section of Systems Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Mira Bühler: mb641/at/; Sabine Vollstädt-Klein: S.Vollstaedt-Klein/at/; Jane Klemen: klemenj/at/; Michael N Smolka: michael.smolka/at/
Received March 19, 2008; Accepted July 22, 2008.
Existing brain imaging studies, investigating sexual arousal via the presentation of erotic pictures or film excerpts, have mainly used blocked designs with long stimulus presentation times.
To clarify how experimental functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design affects stimulus-induced brain activity, we compared brief event-related presentation of erotic vs. neutral stimuli with blocked presentation in 10 male volunteers.
Brain activation differed depending on design type in only 10% of the voxels showing task related brain activity. Differences between blocked and event-related stimulus presentation were found in occipitotemporal and temporal regions (Brodmann Area (BA) 19, 37, 48), parietal areas (BA 7, 40) and areas in the frontal lobe (BA 6, 44).
Our results suggest that event-related designs might be a potential alternative when the core interest is the detection of networks associated with immediate processing of erotic stimuli.
Additionally, blocked, compared to event-related, stimulus presentation allows the emergence and detection of non-specific secondary processes, such as sustained attention, motor imagery and inhibition of sexual arousal.
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