Functional neuroimaging studies have revealed abnormal brain dynamics of male sexual arousal (SA) in psychogenic erectile dysfunction (pED). However, the neuroanatomical correlates of pED are still unclear. In this work, we obtained cortical thickness (CTh) measurements from structural magnetic resonance images of 40 pED patients and 39 healthy control subjects. Abnormalities in CTh related to pED were explored using a scale space search based brain morphometric analysis. Organizations of brain structural covariance networks were analyzed as well. Compared with healthy men, pED patients showed significantly decreased CTh in widespread cortical regions, most of which were previously reported to show abnormal dynamics of male SA in pED, such as the medial prefrontal, orbitofrontal, cingulate, inferotemporal, and insular cortices. CTh reductions in these areas were found to be significantly correlated with male sexual functioning degradation. Moreover, pED patients showed decreased interregional CTh correlations from the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex to the right supramarginal gyrus and the left angular cortex, implying disassociations between the cognitive, motivational, and inhibitory networks of male SA in pED. This work provides structural insights on the complex phenomenon of psychogenic sexual dysfunction in men, and suggests a specific vulnerability factor, possibly as an extra "organic" factor, that may play an important role in pED.
Keywords: cortical thickness; magnetic resonance imaging; psychogenic erectile dysfunction; scale space search; structural covariance network.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.