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1.  Visual Sexual Stimuli—Cue or Reward? A Perspective for Interpreting Brain Imaging Findings on Human Sexual Behaviors 
There is an increasing number of neuroimaging studies using visual sexual stimuli (VSS), especially within the emerging field of research on compulsive sexual behaviors (CSB). A central question in this field is whether behaviors such as excessive pornography consumption share common brain mechanisms with widely studied substance and behavioral addictions. Depending on how VSS are conceptualized, different predictions can be formulated within the frameworks of Reinforcement Learning or Incentive Salience Theory, where a crucial distinction is made between conditioned and unconditioned stimuli (related to reward anticipation vs. reward consumption, respectively). Surveying 40 recent human neuroimaging studies we show existing ambiguity about the conceptualization of VSS. Therefore, we feel that it is important to address the question of whether VSS should be considered as conditioned stimuli (cue) or unconditioned stimuli (reward). Here we present our own perspective, which is that in most laboratory settings VSS play a role of reward, as evidenced by: (1) experience of pleasure while watching VSS, possibly accompanied by genital reaction; (2) reward-related brain activity correlated with these pleasurable feelings in response to VSS; (3) a willingness to exert effort to view VSS similarly as for other rewarding stimuli such as money; and (4) conditioning for cues predictive of VSS. We hope that this perspective article will initiate a scientific discussion on this important and overlooked topic and increase attention for appropriate interpretations of results of human neuroimaging studies using VSS.
doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00402
PMCID: PMC4983547  PMID: 27574507
visual sexual stimuli; neuroimaging; compulsive sexual behaviors; behavioral addictions; incentive salience; reinforcement learning; sexual behavior
2.  Erotic subset for the Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS ERO): cross-sexual comparison study 
Frontiers in Psychology  2015;6:1336.
Research on the processing of sexual stimuli has proved that such material has high priority in human cognition. Yet, although sex differences in response to sexual stimuli were extensively discussed in the literature, sexual orientation was given relatively little consideration, and material suitable for relevant research is difficult to come by. With this in mind, we present a collection of 200 erotic images, accompanied by their self-report ratings of emotional valence and arousal by homo- and heterosexual males and females (n = 80, divided into four equal-sized subsamples). The collection complements the Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS) and is intended to be used as stimulus material in experimental research. The erotic images are divided into five categories, depending on their content: opposite-sex couple (50), male couple (50), female couple (50), male (25) and female (25). Additional 100 control images from the NAPS depicting people in a non-erotic context were also used in the study. We showed that recipient sex and sexual orientation strongly influenced the evaluation of erotic content. Thus, comparisons of valence and arousal ratings in different subject groups will help researchers select stimuli set for the purpose of various experimental designs. To facilitate the use of the dataset, we provide an on-line tool, which allows the user to browse the images interactively and select proper stimuli on the basis of several parameters. The NAPS ERO image collection together with the data are available to the scientific community for non-commercial use at http://naps.nencki.gov.pl.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01336
PMCID: PMC4564755  PMID: 26441715
emotion; erotic stimuli; homosexual; heterosexual; sexual orientation; Nencki Affective Picture System
3.  Association between lipid profile and circulating concentrations of estrogens in young men 
Atherosclerosis  2008;203(1):257-262.
Objectives
Men show higher rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality than pre-menopausal women and this sexual dimorphism may be related to sex-specific effects of sex steroids on cardiovascular risk factors. Unlike androgens, estrogens were not extensively investigated in relation to cardiovascular phenotypes in men.
Methods
We examined associations of estradiol and estrone and their precursors (total testosterone and androstenedione) with traditional cardiovascular risk factors (lipids, blood pressure, body mass) in 933 young (median age – 19 years), apparently healthy Polish men.
Results
Total estradiol was associated with total cholesterol (p=0.006) and HDL-cholesterol (p<0.001) and estrone showed the strongest associations with both total cholesterol (p<0.001) and LDL-cholesterol (p<0.001) in the unadjusted ANOVA analysis. In the multivariable adjusted models in which other independent variables were held as constant one standard deviation increase in estradiol level was associated with 6%-standard deviation increase in total cholesterol (standardized B=0.06, p=0.038) and 6%-standard deviation decrease in HDL-cholesterol (standardized B=-0.06, p=0.036). An increase in estrone levels by one standard deviation was associated with respective 12%- and 13%-standard deviation increases in total cholesterol (standardized B=0.12, p<0.001) and LDL-cholesterol levels (standardized B=0.12, p<0.001) after controlling for other predictors of lipids. Estrone correlated linearly with androstenedione (r=0.28, p<0.001) but there was no correlation between estradiol and testosterone. Estrogens retained their independent associations with lipids after adjustment for their biochemical precursors in the multivariable analysis.
Conclusions
Increased levels of estrogens are associated with unfavourable lipid profile in men and that this association is apparent early in life, before cardiovascular disease manifestations.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.06.002
PMCID: PMC2693280  PMID: 18639879
lipids; estrogens; sex steroids; association; risk factors
4.  Inverse Associations Between Androgens and Renal Function: The Young Men Cardiovascular Association (YMCA) Study 
American journal of hypertension  2008;22(1):100-105.
BACKGROUND
Men exhibit higher risk of nondiabetic renal diseases than women. This male susceptibility to renal disease may be mediated by gender-specific factors such as sex hormones.
METHODS
We have undertaken a cross-sectional examination of associations between renal function (creatinine clearance estimated based on Cockcroft–Gault equation) and circulating levels of sex steroids (total testosterone, total estradiol, estrone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), and dihydrotestosterone) in 928 young (mean age: 18.5 ± 1.2 years) men.
RESULTS
Both androstenedione and DHEA-S showed inverse linear associations with renal function in the crude analysis of lean men (those with body mass index (BMI) less than median). However, only DHEA-S retained its association with renal function in lean subjects after adjustment—assuming no changes in other independent variables 1 s.d. increase in DHEA-S was associated with 13%-s.d. decrease in creatinine clearance (P = 0.004). Testosterone decreased across tertiles of creatinine clearance only in the crude analysis of nonlean (BMI greater than median) subjects (P < 0.001). The adjusted regression analysis that assumed no changes in other independent variables showed that 1 s.d. increase in total testosterone was associated with 11%-s.d. decrease in creatinine clearance of nonlean men (P = 0.006). Factor analysis confirmed an inverse association of renal function with both sex steroids and a different pattern of their loadings on glomerular filtration–related factors in lean (DHEA-S) and nonlean (testosterone) subjects.
CONCLUSIONS
Our data may suggest that androgens are inversely associated with estimated renal function in apparently healthy men without history of cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1038/ajh.2008.307
PMCID: PMC2808108  PMID: 19096379

Results 1-4 (4)