Exploring the Links Between Cognition and Sexual Activity: Cognitive Flexibility, Dopamine and the Prefrontal Cortex

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks, Athanasios Rizos, Nele Demeyere

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

Our previous research shows a significant association between sexual activity and cognitive function in men and women over the age of 50 years. Although this finding was drawn from a nationally representative sample, the exploration of cognition was limited by relatively basic cognitive tests. We now address this limitation in a smaller sample of participants (N=73), using more in-depth measures of cognitive function. Analyses show significant associations between frequency of sexual activity and performance on cognitive tasks that require cognitive flexibility and set-shifting (e.g. verbal fluency and rule finding). Clinical literature shows that patients with disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and drug addiction, typically display reduced cognitive flexibility, which is a key component of adapting behaviour in response to rule changes (i.e. set-shifting). We draw on this evidence from clinical populations to discuss the roles of dopamine and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in the association between sexual activity and executive functions in healthy older adults. Our programme of research aims to understand the links between sexual activity and cognition in later life, and has implications for the provision of appropriate sexual health services for older adults, to benefit health, wellbeing and potentially cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2017
EventAging and Society: Seventh Interdisciplinary Conference - University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
Duration: 3 Nov 20174 Nov 2017
Conference number: 7
http://agingandsociety.com/2017-conference/

Conference

ConferenceAging and Society: Seventh Interdisciplinary Conference
CountryUnited States
CityBerkeley
Period3/11/174/11/17
Internet address

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Wright, H., Jenks, R., Rizos, A., & Demeyere, N. (Accepted/In press). Exploring the Links Between Cognition and Sexual Activity: Cognitive Flexibility, Dopamine and the Prefrontal Cortex. Abstract from Aging and Society: Seventh Interdisciplinary Conference, Berkeley, United States.