Structural Brain Abnormalities in the Frontostriatal System and Cerebellum in Pedophilia (2007)

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COMMENTS: Drug addictions, food addictions, and pathological gambling all share common brain changes. One major change is a decline in frontal cortex volume and metabolism, called hypofrontality. This study shows that pedophiles also have hypofrontality. Pedohilia is considered somewhat like an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and OCD shares several commonalities with addictions. As of this posting, no one has performed brain scans of porn addicts. Nevertheless, this study indicates sexual compulsion may cause hypofrontality, which is seen in all addictions.

J Psychiatr Res. 2007 Nov;41(9):753-62. Epub 2006 Jul 31.
Schiffer B, Peschel T, Paul T, Gizewski E, Forsting M, Leygraf N, Schedlowski M, Krueger TH.

Department of Forensic Psychiatry, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Virchowstrasse 174, D-45147 Essen, Germany.


Even though previous neuropsychological studies and clinical case reports have suggested an association between pedophilia and frontocortical dysfunction, our knowledge about the neurobiological mechanisms underlying pedophilia is still fragmentary. Specifically, the brain morphology of such disorders has not yet been investigated using MR imaging techniques.
Whole brain structural T1-weighted MR images from 18 pedophile patients (9 attracted to males, 9 attracted to females) and 24 healthy age-matched control subjects (12 hetero- and 12 homosexual) from a comparable socioeconomic stratum were processed by using optimized automated voxel-based morphometry within multiple linear regression analyses.
Compared to the homosexual and heterosexual control subjects, pedophiles showed decreased gray matter volume in the ventral striatum (also extending into the nucl. accumbens), the orbitofrontal cortex and the cerebellum. These observations further indicate an association between frontostriatal morphometric abnormalities and pedophilia. In this respect these findings may support the hypothesis that there is a shared etiopathological mechanism in all obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders.