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March 12, 2003

Medical Research in Pedophilia—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(10):1243-1244. doi:10.1001/jama.289.10.1243-a

To the Editor: In their article about pedophilia, Dr Fagan and colleagues1 described this behavior at the interface of medicine and law. There are many theories and much speculation about the cause of pedophilia, but nothing is known of its biology. It should be possible to study brain activity in response to relevant stimuli. For instance, a recent study using magnetic resonance imaging mapped brain activy and measured penile tumescence while subjects viewed relaxing scenes, sports highlights, and sexual scenes.2 With several hundred convicted pedophiles behind bars in the United States, it is surprising that there have been no imaging studies of their brains.

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