Experiment shows visual cortex in women quiets when viewing porn

April 20, 2012 by Bob Yirka 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

Want to control your dreams? Here's how

October 19, 2017
New research at the University of Adelaide has found that a specific combination of techniques will increase people's chances of having lucid dreams, in which the dreamer is aware they're dreaming while it's still happening ...

Nature or nurture? Innate social behaviors in the mouse brain

October 18, 2017
Adult male mice have a simple repertoire of innate, or instinctive, social behaviors: When encountering a female, a male mouse will try to mate with it, and when encountering another male, the mouse will attack. The animals ...

Brain activity predicts crowdfunding outcomes better than self-reports

October 18, 2017
Surveys and self-reports are a time-honored way of trying to predict consumer behavior, but they have limitations. People often give socially desirable answers or they simply don't know or remember things clearly.

Changing stroke definitions is causing chaos, warns professor

October 18, 2017
Proposals to change the definitions of stroke and related conditions are causing confusion and chaos in clinical practice and research, a Monash University associate professor has warned.

Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays

October 18, 2017
If brain imaging could be compared to Google Earth, neuroscientists would already have a pretty good "satellite view" of the brain, and a great "street view" of neuron details. But navigating how the brain computes is arguably ...

'Wasabi receptor' for pain discovered in flatworms

October 18, 2017
A Northwestern University research team has discovered how scalding heat and tissue injury activate an ancient "pain" receptor in simple animals. The findings could lead to new strategies for analgesic drug design for 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.