This Is Your Brain on Sex: The Science Behind the Search for Love

This Is Your Brain on Sex: The Science Behind the Search for Love

Kayt Sukel

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1451611560

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Previously published as Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships.

PHILOSOPHERS, THEOLOGIANS, ARTISTS, AND BOY BANDS HAVE WAXED poetic for centuries about the nature of love. But what does the brain have to say about the way we carry our hearts? In the wake of a divorce, science writer and single mother Kayt Sukel made herself a guinea pig in the labs of some unusual love experts to find out. This Is Your Brain on Sex is her lively and hilarious examination of the big questions about love and sex, previously published in hardcover as Dirty Minds.

Each chapter of this edgy romp through the romantic brain looks at a different aspect of love above the belt. What in your brain makes you love someone—or simply lust after them? Why do good girls like bad boys? Is monogamy practical? How thin is that line between love and hate? After reading this gimlet-eyed look at love, sex, and the brain, you’ll never look at romance the same way again.

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cerebellum, involved with the fine-tuning of motor control. It was a unique pattern, they argued, that could not be accounted for by anything but passionate love (though, Zeki quipped later, the brain activation pattern did look an awful lot like what you see in a brain after a hit of cocaine). What it meant, exactly, required further study.5 A Separate System for Romantic Love Fisher, Brown, and Aron used a similar photo viewing task in their fMRI study. Instead of asking participants

(a drug that specifically blocked the D1 receptors) directly into the nucleus accumbens, the males were happy to cuddle with whatever female happened to drop in. It was as if their previous pair-bond had never existed. Just a simple infusion and—poof!—“love” disappeared. Meadow voles naturally have a lot of D1-type receptors residing in their nucleus accumbens. This is true even before they mate. What gives? If D1 is so important to a pair-bond, these guys should be even more faithful than

would shut down development of the much anticipated “female Viagra” after a poor showing in clinical trials, the female orgasm is making appearances in both the headline news and late-night talk show jokes. Never mind that I’m not having all that many orgasms. I’m stuck in the minutiae of an exhausting divorce—not exactly sexy stuff. Getting laid can wait until the lawyers are done conversing, lest I inadvertently give them something else to fuss about. But the rest of the world continues to

distracted thinking about what happened at work earlier in the day or wondering if your butt looks enormous. The brain matters—quite a lot. For the past few decades researchers have been working diligently to understand the physiology of orgasm. A great deal of that focus has remained below the neck, on what’s happening with the penis, clitoris, and vagina. However, in recent years neuroimaging studies have shown—surprise, surprise—that the brain plays a huge role in orgasm. You might well think

suggested he did not identify with his group at all; he was only looking out for himself. Participants snorted some oxytocin or a placebo (they were unaware which they were getting) before sitting down to play the game.1 De Dreu and his colleagues found that oxytocin amplified in-group love. That is, participants were more likely to contribute to the within-group pool if they had received a sniff of the neuropeptide instead of the placebo before making their decisions. Oxytocin, however, did not

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