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Neurobiology of pedophilia or paraphilia?  Towards a ‘Grand Unified Theory’ of sexual interests

James M. Cantor

Important advances have been made in the neuroscience of atypical sexual interests. These advances have thus far been restricted to a single paraphilia: pedophilia.  It therefore remains unclear to what extent the current body of findings is specific to pedophilia or general to the paraphilias.  This address will survey the range of atypical sexual interests and explore how the emerging neuroscience might inform the behavioural science and vice versa.  To that end, we will explore whether and how the different paraphilias go together in the brain, spelling out some of the hypotheses it suggests.


James Cantor, PhD, CPsych has been studying the neurobiology of pedophilia and other atypical sexual interests for 20 years.  The results of his program of research and its implications are widely cited and were featured in highly acclaimed 2016 documentary, I, Pedophile.  Dr. Cantor’s career posts have included Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addition and Mental Health (Toronto, Canada), Editor-in-Chief of Sexual Abuse(official journal of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers), and Director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre (Toronto, Ontario).