Skin conductance responses to visual sexual stimuli

Int J Psychophysiol. 2008 Jan;67(1):64-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2007.10.005. Epub 2007 Oct 17.


Previous research showed that the asymmetrical direction of bilateral skin conductance responses (SCRs) remains constant regardless of task (with larger left SCRs in men and larger right SCRs in women). However, SCRs are controlled ipsilaterally by structures also associated with sexual arousal, hence it could be expected that larger right SCRs are specifically elicited by sexual stimuli. In order to test the two competing hypotheses, left and right SCR magnitude to three stimulus categories (sexually explicit, sexually non-explicit and neutral) were compared in 54 subjects (27 females). The direction of the asymmetry remained constant across stimulus types, however, unexpected sex differences occurred, as males had larger right SCRs and there was no lateralization in females. Interestingly, this interaction disappeared after controlling for indicators of subjective sexual arousal, suggesting that a specific (not previously hypothesized) processing of sexual information could take place.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*