ANS51(4)147-151 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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Activitas Nervosa Superior 2009; 51 :3,147-151 147 E LECTRODERMAL R ECORDINGS D URING H UMAN O RGASM Stelios Kerassidis* School of Health Sciences, University of Crete, Greece Received April 1, 2009; accepted May 3, 2009 Abstract We tested the hypothesis that palmar sweat glands activation is expressed every time a mass sympathetic activation takes place. We performed (i) eleven palmar electrodermal recordings during sexual intercourse and orgasm of one male and one female student, (ii) 4 palmar electrodermal recordings plus heart rate during sexual intercourse and orgasm of the same couple, and (iii) 3 plantar electrodermal recordings during masturbation and ejaculation of 3 male students. High palmar electodermal activity was recorded during sexual intercourse but small during orgasm. The higher value of heart rate was recorded at the moment of orgasm. Sizeable plantar electodermal response was recorded during ejaculation after masturbation. We concluded that the palmar sweat glands activation cannot be considered as an indiscriminate following of sympathetic discharge. Key words: Electrodermal activity; Orgasm; Sexual intercourse; Sympathetic nervous system INTRODUCTION The sweating of palms can accompany fear, anxiety, tension, discomfort, exploratory and sexual behaviour; it can be triggered by novel stimuli, pain, sudden expo- sition to cold, emotionally loaded words, and every kind of physical or intellectual effort (Edelberg 1973, Fowles 1986). Thus, if the electodermal activity (EDA: changes of the palmar conductivity because of sweat glands ac- tivation) can accompany almost everything, the Fowles‟ (1986) question whether this function is a complex and noisy manifestation of non-specific activity must be considered justified. If the non-specificity hypothesis is true, the palmar sweat glands‟ activation may follow the sympathetic discharge, since sweat glands are innervated only by sympathetic nervous system fibres. It is very possible that palmar and plantar sweating is a residue of the evo- lution and follows mass sympathetic activation at fight and flight reactions (Cannon‟s theory). Obviously, if the activation of palmar-plantar sweat glands is an indi- scriminate following of some type general sympathetic discharge, it carries no specific message for the central nervous system processes and the question „‟why is this local sweating expressed?‟‟ become meaningless. The following findings, coming from different fields of the research, raise doubts about the indiscriminate co- activation of palmar sweat glands with sympathetic dis- charges: (i) the capacity for specificity of the sympa- thetic nervous system, found in the former experiments of Lacey (1967) and Miller (1969a, 1969b), (ii) the au- tonomic manifestations among anxiety disorders (Hoehn-Saric & McLeod 1988, Ost et al. 1984) which cannot be interpreted by a mass sympathetic activation theory. In addition, Dawson et al. (1985) found that depressed patients exhibit higher tonic heart rate levels
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This note was uploaded on 03/08/2011 for the course CLNICAL PS 2010 taught by Professor Actnervsuper during the Spring '11 term at The Chicago School of Prof. Psychology.

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ANS51(4)147-151 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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