[Paleopsych] NS: Women's orgasms are a turn-off for the brain

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Women's orgasms are a turn-off for the brain

      * 25 June 2005
      * Michael Le Page

    FOR women, it seems, sex is a big turn-off. A scanning study has
    revealed that many areas of the brain switch off during orgasm -
    including those involved in emotion.

    "At the moment of orgasm, women do not have any emotional feelings,"
    says Gert Holstege of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
    His team recruited 13 healthy heterosexual women and their partners.
    The women were asked to lie with their heads in a PET scanner while
    the team compared their brain activity in four states: resting, faking
    an orgasm, having their clitoris stimulated by their partner, and
    clitoral stimulation to the point of orgasm.

    As the women were stimulated, activity rose in one sensory part of the
    brain but fell in the amygdala and hippocampus, areas involved in
    alertness and anxiety. During orgasm, activity decreased in many more
    areas of the brain, Holstege told a meeting of the European Society
    for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Copenhagen this week. Only
    one part of the brain, in the cerebellum, was more active in women
    during orgasm. The cerebellum is generally associated with
    coordinating movement.

    The findings appear to confirm what we already know: that women cannot
    enjoy sex unless they are relaxed and free from worries and
    distractions. Looked at from an evolutionary point of view, it could
    be that the brain switches off the emotions during sex because at such
    times reproduction and survival of the species become more important
    than survival of the individual.

    The team has already done a similar study with 11 men, which revealed
    far less deactivation during orgasm than in women. However, Holstege
    says the results are probably unreliable because PET scanners measure
    activity over 2 minutes - and in men it's all over in a few seconds.

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