Even though the Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD) was added to the ICD-11 under the impulse control category in 2019, its neural mechanisms are still debated. Researchers have noted its similarity both to addiction and to Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The aim of our study was to address this question by investigating the pattern of anatomical brain abnormalities among CSBD patients.
Reviewing 39 publications on Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) we have identified main abnormalities specific for addictions and OCD. Than we have collected DTI data from 36 heterosexual males diagnosed with CSBD and 31 matched healthy controls. These results were then compared to the addiction and OCD patterns.
Compared to controls, CSBD individuals showed significant fractional anisotropy (FA) reduction in the superior corona radiata tract, the internal capsule tract, cerebellar tracts and occipital gyrus white matter. Interestingly, all these regions were also identified in previous studies as shared DTI correlates in both OCD and addiction.
Discussion and conclusions
Results of our study suggest that CSBD shares similar pattern of abnormalities with both OCD and addiction. As one of the first DTI study comparing structural brain differences between CSBD, addictions and OCD, although it reveals new aspects of CSBD, it is insufficient to determine whether CSBD resembles more an addiction or OCD. Further research, especially comparing directly individuals with all three disorders may provide more conclusive results.
Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD) is characterized by increased reactivity to erotic reward cues. Cue-encoded reward parameters, such as type (e.g. erotic or monetary) or probability of anticipated reward, shape reward-related motivational processes, increase the attractiveness of cues and therefore might enhance maladaptive behavioral patterns in CSBD. Studies on the neural patterns of cue processing in individuals with CSBD have been limited mainly to ventral striatal responses. Therefore, here we aimed to examine the cue reactivity of multiple key structures in the brain's reward system, taking into account not only the type of predicted reward but also its probability.
Twenty Nine men seeking professional help due to CSBD and 24 healthy volunteers took part in an fMRI study with a modified Incentive Delay Task with erotic and monetary rewards preceded by cues indicating a 25%, 50%, or 75% chance of reward. Analyses of functional patterns of activity related to cue type and probability were conducted on the whole-brain and ROI levels.
Increased anticipatory response to cues predictive of erotic rewards was observed among CSBD participants when compared to controls, in the ventral striatum and anterior orbitofrontal cortex (aOFC). The activity in aOFC was modulated by reward probability.
Discussion and conclusions
Type of anticipated reward (erotic vs monetary) affects reward-related behavioral motivation in CSBD more strongly than reward probability. We present evidence of abnormal aOFC function in CSBD by demonstrating the recruitment of additional subsections of this region by erotic reward cues.
Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder (CSBD) is a medical condition that can impair social and occupational functioning and lead to severe distress. To date, treatment effectiveness studies of CSBD are under-developed; typically, treatment for CSBD is based on guidelines for substance or other behavioural addictions. Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) is an evidence-based treatment for substance addiction aimed at, among other things, reducing craving and negative affect—i.e. processes that are implicated in the maintenance of problematic sexual behaviours. However, to our knowledge no prior research has been published evaluating mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) in the treatment of CSBD, except two clinical case reports. Therefore, the aim of the current pilot study was to examine whether MBRP can lead to clinical improvement in CSBD.
Participants were 13 adult males with a diagnosis of CSBD. Before and after the eight-week MBRP intervention, participants completed a booklet of questionnaires including measurements of porn viewing, masturbation and emotional distress.
As expected, we found that after MBRP participants spent significantly less time engaging in problematic pornography use and exhibited a decrease in anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms.
Discussion and Conclusions
The findings indicate that MBRP could be beneficial for CSBD individuals. Further clinical effectiveness studies with bigger sample sizes, delayed post-training measurements and randomised control trial design are warranted. In conclusion, MBRP leads to a decrease in time spent watching porn and a decrease in emotional distress in CSBD patients.
Despite the inclusion of the Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD) in the International Classification of Diseases, very little is known about the underlying affective and cognitive processes. To fill this gap, we compared CSBD subjects and Healthy-Controls (HC) across negative/positive valence, cognitive and sensorimotor systems, as proposed by the Research Domain Criteria framework.
74 heterosexual CSBD and 66 matched HC males were studied with 10 questionnaires and 8 behavioral tasks. Analyses were conducted with frequent and Bayesian statistics.
CSBD individuals showed significantly higher (than HC) punishment sensitivity, anxiety, depression, compulsivity, and impulsivity symptoms. Frequentist statistical analysis revealed significant interaction between subject group and condition in Incentive Delay Task, concerning the strength of motivation and hedonic value of erotic rewards. Bayesian analysis produced evidence for the absence of group differences in Facial Discrimination Task, Risk-Ambiguity Task, and Learning Task. Also, Bayesian methods provided evidence for group differences in the Emotional Stroop Task and the Incentive Delay Task. Sexual Discounting Task, Attentional Network Task, and Stop Signal Task produced mixed results.
Higher punishment sensitivity and impulsivity among CSBD subjects, along with significant interaction between these groups and erotic vs. non-erotic reward processing is in line with previous findings on negative/positive valence alterations in CSBD patients. This result shows that there are similarities to substance and behavioral addictions. The absence of group differences and mixed results related to cognitive and sensorimotor systems raise concerns to what extent CSBD resembles a wide spectrum of impairments observed in disorders, and demand further research.