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« Movie Elsewhere | Main | More Movie Notes »

June 30, 2005

Secrets of Good Loving

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The BBC reports that scientists have succeeded in scanning the brains of people having (and not having) orgasms. Some key findings:

  • Women are indeed good at faking it -- but the brain-scanning machine knows.
  • What seems to help men achieve orgasm is knowing that they'll get the physical stimulation they crave.
  • What seems to help women achieve orgasm is feeling secure and protected, or at least free from fear.
  • Keeping the socks on may violate good taste and classy stylishness. But both men and women achieve orgasm more easily when their footsies are warm.

Me, I've always wanted to know what goes on in the heads of the scientists who study sex. Perhaps we could subject them to the brain-scanner?

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at June 30, 2005




Comments

"What seems to help men achieve orgasm is knowing that they'll get the physical stimulation they crave." Uh -- this confuses me a little. By the time they have an orgasm, haven't they by definition had the physical stimulation they crave? They can have an orgasm from knowing they're *going* to be stimulated? And what about those who are stimulated . . . and stimulated . . . and stimulated, but still can't have an orgasm? Explain, please.

"both men and women achieve orgasm more easily when their footsies are warm." Well, okay, as long as the socks are any color other than black.

Posted by: missgrundy on July 1, 2005 02:38 PM



And another thing . . . how the heck did they get women to feel "secure and protected" while being brain-scanned during sex?

This topic seems to have . . . uh . . . stimulated my interest.

Posted by: missgrundy on July 1, 2005 02:46 PM



Brain-scanners are the new sex toys, I guess.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 1, 2005 06:30 PM



I love these sex studies and think it as worthwhile an area of research as anything else, but I also find it interesting how people sometimes throw caution to the wind in attempting to analyse the most preliminary results. When I read the part about how socks helped the subjects achieve orgasm, I wondered how comfortable the setting was, and whether the room temperature had been dialed down for the sake of the monitoring equipment more than for the comfort of people. But I couldn't see the issue of footsies as being terribly relevant to the research results.

As for orgasmic women feeling "secure and protected," this seems clearly a case of attempting to read stereotypical views of men and women into the data. The actual research data is much more prosaic: "As the women were stimulated, activity rose in one sensory part of the brain, called the primary somatosensory cortex, but fell in the amygdala and hippocampus, areas involved in alertness and anxiety. During orgasm, activity fell in many more areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, compared with the resting state..." It is a big jump to go from brain activity to emotional states, but even here there are a number of ways to view the data.

As one researcher noted, you don't need to view this as a need to feel "secure and protected," but alternatively "From an evolutionary point of view, it could be that the brain switches off the emotions during sex because at such times the chance to produce offspring becomes more important than the survival risk to the individual. [researcher Gert] Holstege points to the extraordinary behaviour seen in some animals during the breeding season, such as March hares, when the urge to mate seems to override the usual fear of predators."

There is an interesting view among some evolutionary biologists that men, women (and even resulting children) may all at times employ risky or competing strategies in order to maximize their survival prospects. It will be interesting to see how this research unfolds in the future.

Posted by: Alec on July 2, 2005 01:21 PM






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