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Cognitive functioning and its influence on sexual behavior in normal aging and dementia




Motivational aspects, emotional factors, and cognition, all of which require intact cognitive functioning may be essential in sexual functioning. However, little is known about the association between cognitive functioning and sexual behavior. The aim of this article is to review the current evidence for the influence of cognitive functioning on sexual behavior in normal aging and dementia.


A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Ovid, Cochrane, and PsycINFO databases. The databases were searched for English language papers focusing on human studies published relating cognitive functioning to sexual behavior in the aging population. Keywords included sexual behavior, sexuality, cognitive functioning, healthy elderly, elderly, aging and dementia.


Eight studies fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Of these studies, five included dementia patients and/or their partners, whereas only three studies included healthy older persons. Although not consistently, results indicated a trend that older people who are not demented and continue to engage in sexual activity have better overall cognitive functioning. Cognitive decline and dementia seem to be associated with diminished sexual behavior in older persons.


The association between cognitive functioning and sexual behavior in the aging population is understudied. The results found are inconclusive. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.