Effects of other brain lesions on male sexual behavior

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A lesion with quite interesting effects has been performed in a small cluster of lumbar spinothalamic cells. These cells are specifically activated with ejaculation but not with other components of male sexual behavior (Truitt et al., 2003). Destruction of these cells eliminates ejaculation without affecting any other aspect of male rat sexual behavior (Truitt and Coolen, 2002). Only further studies can determine the exact function of this structure in the activation of ejaculatory mechanisms.

While lesions of the medial preoptic area always eliminate male sexual behavior, under the condition that they involve most of the area, lesions of most other structures have variable and always minor effects. The exceptions may be the medial and dorsomedial prefrontal cortices and the lumbar spinothalamic cell cluster as illustrated above. However, more data on these structures are needed before any firm conclusion concerning their real role can be drawn. Structures where lesions produce minor and inconsistent effects include the different parts of the amygdala, the nucleus accumbens, the dorsolateral tegmentum, the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus and the main olfactory bulb, as we have already seen. Some are effective only in animals without sexual experience, some affect one aspect of sexual function but not others, some are significant in one study but not in another, and so on. Results from these kinds of studies show that male sexual behavior is sensitive to events in the brain, but they do not provide any solid fundament for useful hypotheses concerning the central nervous control of sex behavior. If someone should be interested in the huge lesion literature, there is a very extensive review that I can recommend (Hull et al., 2002).

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