Barry Komisaruk, PhD

pioneering the study of brain activity during sexual response and orgasm

A Distinguished Professor & Researcher focusing on the science of orgasms

Dr. Komisaruk is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. His research includes identifying the brain regions that respond to genital stimulation to generate orgasm in women and men, and the neural pathways by which genital stimulation gains access to the brain via spinal cord and vagus nerves. He studies the neural basis and therapies for genital-related pathologies and use of functional neuroimaging of genital sensory response: spinal Cord and brain Mechanisms in humans and laboratory animals.

Barry R. Komisaruk received a B.S. in biology at The City University of New York and Ph.D. in psychobiology from Rutgers University. He was a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow in neuroendocrinology at the Brain Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles. Joining the Rutgers-Newark faculty in 1966, Komisaruk was a professor in the Institute of Animal Behavior and Department of Zoology. He is now Distinguished Professor in the Psychology Department, director of the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, and former associate dean of the Graduate School.

Lifetime of service dedicated to increasing pleasure while decreasing pain

With a penchant for finding new research avenues to explore, Komisaruk received a Board of Trustees of Rutgers University Excellence in Research award and the Hugo G. Beigel Research Award of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. His major research interests include: functional neuroimaging of genital sensory response; neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and neuroendocrinology of reproductive behavior; and neural control of autonomic genital function. He is senior author of The Science of Orgasm, a comprehensive look at the biology and neuroscience of orgasm, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, as well as The Orgasm Answer Guide, a general readership book from the same publisher. He has published more than 155 academic journal articles and chapters.

Dr Komisaruk’s internationally published research provided experimental evidence that women with spinal cord injuries could still experience sexual feelings via an existing nerve pathway that bypasses the spinal cord and enters the brain directly. Komisaruk’s latest research is in the use of neurobiofeedback to alleviate pain from spinal cord injuries and to increase the activity of brain regions that he has found to be activated during pleasure, specifically during sexual response. His goal is to determine whether people with pathologies including spinal cord injury can use this type of biofeedback, seeing images of their own ongoing brain activity measured by fMRI, to voluntarily lessen the pain they are experiencing and to intensify their pleasure. This research involves mapping the brain response to sexual response and pain toward enabling women and men to learn how to control their brain activity to overcome pathologies in both these forms of sensation.
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