The effect of a dopamine antagonist on conditioning of sexual arousal in women.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Psychopharmacology, Volume 233, p.1179-1189 (2016)




dopamine; sexual arousal; conditioning


Dopamine (DA) plays a key role in reward-seeking behaviours. Accumulating evidence from animal and human studies suggests that human sexual reward learning may also depend on DA transmission. However, research on the role of DA in human sexual reward learning is completely lacking. To investigate whether DA antagonism attenuates classical conditioning of sexual response in humans. Healthy women were randomly allocated to one of two treatment conditions: haloperidol (n = 29) or placebo (n = 29). A differential conditioning paradigm was applied with genital vibrostimulation as unconditional stimulus (US) and neutral pictures as conditional stimuli (CSs). Genital arousal was assessed, and ratings of affective value and subjective sexual arousal were obtained. Haloperidol administration affected unconditional genital responding. However, no significant effects of medication were found for conditioned responding. No firm conclusions can be drawn about whether female sexual reward learning implicates DA transmission since the results do not lend themselves to unambiguous interpretation.