Experiment shows visual cortex in women quiets when viewing porn

April 20, 2012 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from the University of Groningen Medical Centre in the Netherlands have found that for women at least, watching pornographic videos tends to quiet the part of the brain most heavily involved in looking at and processing things in the immediate environment, suggesting that the brain finds arousal more important during that time than is processing what is actually being seen. The team has published a paper in The Journal of Sexual Medicine describing their findings.

To find out if the is essentially deactivated during sexual arousal in women, the team enlisted 12 volunteers; all women between the ages of 18 and 47, who had not yet reached menopause. Also each was on oral birth control pills which tend to flatten menstrual cycles and smooth out and/or anxiety. Each was shown three videos, one with no sexual connotation, another with mild sexual content, and a third that was full on hard-core porn. While they were watching the videos, the women were also having their brain activity watched via PET scans, which work by measuring blood flow to the various . It is thought that more blood flow indicates that more brainwork is occurring, which implies that when the brain delegates tasks to different regions, by sending more blood, it is demonstrating that it finds certain activities more important than others.

The team found virtually no difference in in all of the women when watching the first two videos. When watching the third however, they found that blood flow to the visual cortex was reduced in all of the volunteers indicating that the brain had decided that focusing on arousal was more important than fixating on exactly what was occurring on the screen in front of them (or that women just don’t want to really see what is going on with sex). This is in direct contrast to most other visual activities which tend to cause more blood to flow to the visual cortex to process all of the information that is coming in.

The researchers also suggest their findings help explain why women who exhibit symptoms of anxiety often report sexual problems, as high anxiety is often correlated with increased to the due to the person reacting on a nearly constant basis to visual stimuli. They point out that for people in general, the cannot be both anxious and aroused, it generally has to be one or the other, or neither.

Explore further: Study finds link between relationship style and sexual dysfunction

More information: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10 Apr 2012. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02706.x

Related Stories

Study finds link between relationship style and sexual dysfunction

March 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Deakin University research has shown that being too needy or not needy enough in a relationship can result in sexual issues.

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds

January 16, 2018
Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.