To increase internet traffic, some online media try to attract attention by presenting pictures that cover the sexual organs of the body. However, compared with naked pictures, it remains unclear whether these covered pictures can evoke similar levels of sexual arousal in heterosexual young adults and category-specific patterns in men. To examine the above problems, this research divided female and male pictures into 4 types (fully dressed pictures, naked pictures, covered pictures and underwear-wearing pictures). Behavioral experiments, eye-movement technology and ERP measurements were employed to explore the different levels of sexual arousal between men and women in response to pictures of different sexes and types. The results revealed that the level of sexual arousal induced by covered pictures was significantly higher than that induced by naked pictures. There was no significant difference in the P300 amplitude of the parietal lobe between covered pictures and naked pictures, but in the frontal lobe, the P300 amplitude induced by covered pictures was significantly higher than that induced by naked pictures. The results indicated that unlike the process of sexual arousal induced by naked pictures, the process of sexual arousal induced by covered pictures not only included the processing of visual stimuli but also required the frontal lobe to actively construct to perceive pictures of covered sexual organs as naked pictures and thus induce sexual arousal. In addition, we also found that both covered pictures (as reflected in the levels of sexual arousal and the average amplitude of P300) and naked pictures (as reflected in the levels of sexual arousal, the number of fixations and the average amplitude of P300) can induce category specificity in heterosexual men. On the one hand, this research extends knowledge regarding sexual cognition and finds that covered pictures can also evoke category specificity in men; on the other hand, from the perspective of brain cognition, the difference in sexual cognitive processing between covered pictures and naked pictures is recognized.
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