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The Influence of Cognition on Human Sexuality

1 February 2017

Publication Date
20 January 2017

Original Abstract
Neuroscientific research, in the field of sexuality (in the broad sense), is mainly devoted to clinical topics or the neurobiological processes of reproduction. Even in cognitive neuroscience, the role and importance of cognition on sexuality is not an extensively researched subject.

The aim of this article is to assess the influence of cognitive processes on human sexuality, in particular on the activity of the cerebral circuits of sexual behavior. Data was collected from a review of the literature concerning the effects of the cognitive processes on the neurobiological structures that govern sexual behavior.

It can be observed that the cognitive processes influence sexuality, both directly and indirectly, on two separate levels: cerebral and cultural. On the one hand, the cognitive processes participate in the creation of techniques and the development of symbols, norms and values that are the basis for specific social and cultural organizations; these sociocultural contexts can subsequently have a retro-effect on cognitive representations, but will especially influence and structure sexuality (conceptualization of 2 or 3, or even 5 genres; absence or existence of the kiss; creation of contraception and artificial reproduction, that dissociate reproduction from hedonistic behavior). At the same time, cognitive representations can directly modify the activity of sexual circuits: sensory perceptions, sexual arousal, reward system and so on, that influence the sexual learnings and behaviors.

To conclude, the indirect effects (via culture) and direct effects of cognition on human sexuality are clearly major and structuring. For this reason, it seems desirable to develop this research topic, in order to better assess and understand the role and the importance of the various cognitive processes on sexual learning and sexuality in general.

Wunsch, S. (2017). L’influence de la cognition sur la sexualité. Sexologies. DOI:

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sex, sexuality, sexology, french, neurosciences, cognition, sexual behavior, influence


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