Orgasm is an important aspect of social life, having implications for reproduction, relationships and sexuality Levin, While there has been widespread interest in human orgasm in the wider social community, only recently has scientific research begun to explore what occurs in the brain during orgasm. The purpose of this chapter is to answer the question "what happens to the brain during orgasm? In order to effectively answer this question, research surrounding three main areas will be discussed: brain structures: neurotransmitters, hormones, and non-genital orgasms. By focusing on these three areas, a sufficient understanding of orgasm neurology will be reached.
Crabs can learn and Neurology of an orgasm Neurolgy way through a complex maze IBM says Google may not have reached quantum supremacy after all Going fully organic would raise greenhouse gas emissions Blue Origin assembles space industry dream team to build moon lander Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food. Hormones and Behavior. Importantly, the same multicausal conditions for evaluation of sexual partners are not only contingent upon orgasm having occurred but also take place over the entirety of sexual interaction, as well as before initiating sexual activity. On the basis of Chloe sevigny brown bunny blow literatures, this article introduces a novel mechanistic model of Neurology of an orgasm stimulation and ortasm. Pain sensitivity and vasopressin analgesia are mediated by a gene-sex-environment interaction. Who, what, where, orgsm and maybe even why?
Dick don fail me know. How rhythmic stimulation can induce a 'sexual trance'
M, Feilding A, Nutt D. For example, Neurology of an orgasm neurophysiologists specialize in the use of EEG and intraoperative monitoring to diagnose certain neurological disorders. Here is another great ad that has oh, so many genius design and psychological elements going on. It is even possible that these rectal contractions may also be Neurokogy to the frequency of synchronous activity in upstream dynamics, because climax involves a combination of bottom-up and top-down inputs. G, Held J. L, Rawlings N. Treatment options vary depending on the neurological orgssm. Phase-locked responses to speech in human auditory cortex are enhanced during comprehension. Effects of gender and relationship context in audio narratives on genital and subjective sexual Nejrology in heterosexual women and Neurology of an orgasm. Effects of an epilepsy-causing mutation in the SCN1A sodium channel gene on cocaine-induced seizure susceptibility in mice. Trends in Neurosciences. Effects of opioid Heather graham sex scene metacafe in the nucleus of the solitary tract on the sleep-wakefulness cycle states in cats. Voskuil P.
Concordia researchers describe the vast potential for female arousal from multiple sensory inputs.
- Andrea is a Behavior Therapist and Consultant for children on the autism spectrum, residing in the state of FL; her background is in cognitive.
- Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous systems and their subdivisions, the autonomic and somatic nervous systems , including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle.
- On the basis of existing literatures, this article introduces a novel mechanistic model of sexual stimulation and orgasm.
On the basis of existing literatures, this article introduces a novel mechanistic model of sexual stimulation and orgasm. In doing so, it characterizes the neurophenomenology of sexual trance and climax, describes parallels in dynamics between orgasms and seizures, speculates on possible evolutionary origins of sex differences in orgasmic responding, and proposes avenues for future experimentation.
Here, a model is introduced wherein sexual stimulation induces entrainment of coupling mechanical and neuronal oscillatory systems, thus creating synchronized functional networks within which multiple positive feedback processes intersect synergistically to contribute to sexual experience. These processes generate states of deepening sensory absorption and trance, potentially culminating in climax if critical thresholds are surpassed. The centrality of rhythmic stimulation and its modulation by salience for surpassing these thresholds suggests ways in which differential orgasmic responding between individuals—or with different partners—may serve as a mechanism for ensuring adaptive mate choice.
Because the production of rhythmic stimulation combines honest indicators of fitness with cues relating to potential for investment, differential orgasmic response may serve to influence the probability of continued sexual encounters with specific mates. Given that reproduction is the bottom line of evolutionary fitness, it is unsurprising that orgasm would be a source of intense pleasure Pfaus et al.
Although these mechanisms exhibit extensive homology across species, there may also be important variability based on differences in niche and nervous system complexity Georgiadis, Despite several intriguing neuroimaging investigations Georgiadis et al. Here, I introduce a model in which the rhythmic nature of sexual activity is central for understanding the phenomenology of sexual trance and orgasm. Further, I suggest this mechanism implies particular ways in which aspects of sexual responding have been shaped by evolution to promote adaptive mate choice.
Although orgasm-producing activities are usually focused on the genitals, orgasm is sometimes achieved by stimulating other body parts, and sometimes even through thought alone. Some aspects of orgasmic experience may be unique to humans, but many of these mechanisms are shared across all mammals, all vertebrates, and even invertebrates Izhikevich, Rather, behavioral and physiological processes suggestive of orgasm have been observed in a wide variety of both male and female organisms, involving distinct affective displays e.
That is, if it is the case that males vary in their rhythm-producing abilities, and if this variability correlates with genetic quality, then females could select better genes for their offspring if they bias reproduction toward these fitter males. The possible adaptive significance of rhythmic ability is suggested by the complexity of dynamics involved in sexual activities.
First, in order to generate steady rhythmic motion, it is necessary for the nervous system to drive motoric effector systems with precise frequencies and amplitudes such that forces spatially and temporally align to regulate the frequency of ongoing oscillations.
These control challenges are further compounded when this body is being used to precisely stimulate a separate mechanical system, which may itself be oscillating or gyrating. Some of these factors would be important for all reproducing organisms; others would be unique to humans. Human sexual performance depends on being capable of not only switching between multiple rhythms, but of inferring the best times for these changes.
In this way, sexual interactions may test not only the sensorimotor quality of mates but also the sensitivity of their social intelligence. Investment signaling might be a particularly important factor in humans, both because of the high levels of resources necessary for successful child rearing Geary, and also because humans can consciously modulate the quality of interactions based on complex social goals Tomasello, However, there may be unique mechanisms by which sexual compatibility and orgasm function as tests of mate quality in humans.
Specifically, I propose that rhythms may be particularly likely to affect cortical dynamics via entrainment of neural synchrony, thus enhancing perceptual vividness and emotional intensity.
There have been numerous studies exploring the potential adaptive significance of orgasm. One of the novel contributions of this paper is a characterization of proximate-level mechanistic details by which ultimate-level evolutionary selective pressures were served Tinbergen, The model is also compatible with several other evolutionary hypotheses of orgasm e.
Rather, the neurophysiological underpinnings of sexual trance and orgasm suggest a mechanism so powerful that it is likely to have had a profound impact on mate choice in both sexes.
I propose that synchrony promotes the intensity of sexual experience through at least three mechanisms: 1 enhanced summation of excitatory neural activity, 2 increased attention via integration of mutually informing data streams, and 3 maximal driving of neural systems for reward and somatic response.
Experiences have tactile, visual, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory aspects, all of which are associated in specific ways based on their common causation by particular multi-aspect properties of the world Hayek, First, it is clear that at least some degree of rhythmic stimulation facilitates sexual enjoyment Joannides, ; Kaplan, and that an overly irregular or erratic rhythm can be disruptive.
A second reason to think sexual rhythms can entrain brain oscillations is their multi-modal richness. Sexual activity either interpersonal or solitary frequently involves synchronized rhythmic production of related somatic, visceral, visual, auditory, olfactory, or gustatory signals. This multimodal informational synergy may not only provide clearer consciousness of percepts relating to sexual stimulation but may also provide synergistically greater entrainment effects.
Indeed, increased comprehension of stimulus characteristics has been observed to increase neural entrainment from the rhythmic patterns associated with language and music Burger et al. Multimodal synergy may serve similar functions for enhancing the potency of sexual stimulation Rowe, Further, sexual stimulation is such that greater attention is likely to result in greater enjoyment.
This setup provides a bidirectional and mutually reinforcing relationship between pleasure and attention, thus instantiating positive feedback toward deepening sexual experience. Preliminary evidence suggests that a bidirectional relationship between pleasure and entrainment exists for music perception Trost et al.
This may vary not only between people but also within the same person depending on the nature of the sexual activity. That is, the affordances Gibson, and signal transduction properties of an aroused body are better suited for facilitating positive feedback amplification of pleasure, possibly via mechanisms of neural entrainment.
In this way, progression into deeper states of sexual enjoyment may lead to qualitatively different experiential dynamics. Rather, many of the qualities of sexual pleasure may specifically be driven by a synchrony-facilitated state of sensory absorption leading to trance. Our conscious field of awareness has a limited capacity, with upper bounds to how much we can be aware of at any point in time.
We partially overcome these limitations by biasing the degree to which different representations are active within conscious experience i.
However, this process is not without tradeoffs. Enhanced processing of some representations can come at the expense of reduced cognitive resources being available for others.
Enhancing arousal and synchrony can both be thought of as means of increasing the brightness, focus, or width of this spotlight, but not unboundedly. With respect to body awareness, intensely focusing on immediate sensations—such as those produced by rhythmic stimulation — is likely to reduce the amount of mental capacity available for other things, such as self-narratives Damasio, That is, the reasons we enjoy sexual experiences may overlap heavily with the reasons we enjoy musical experience, both in terms of proximate i.
Some aspects of this model are likely unique to humans and their advanced capacity for high-level symbolic cognition Tomasello, Six factors have been identified as characterizing flow states Csikszentmihalyi, : 1 intensely focused concentration, 2 merged action and awareness, 3 loss of self-consciousness, 4 personal effectiveness, 5 alterations of subjective time, and 6 intrinsic reward.
Both sexual and non-sexual flow states may be rewarding because of enhanced engagement with pleasurable activities, allowing self-processes to be outcompeted for attentional resources, thus allowing for deeper pleasurable engagement.
Importantly, it should be noted that although sexual activity involving genital stimulation may be particularly conducive to sensory absorption, a trance model could also be appropriate for describing a variety of less-explicit sexual interactions, ranging from kissing to dancing, and perhaps even some kinds of intimate conversation.
This understanding of sexual experience as fundamentally related to trance or flow leads to many testable hypotheses. For further hypotheses and proposed experiments, see Appendix. If deactivation of frontal midline structures were observed during sexual interaction something that would be difficult to measure in real time , then this might suggest disruption of self-related processing of the kind present in trance states Heinzel et al.
However, considering the methodological challenges of studying sexual climax with neuroimaging, and given that this literature only has a few small-sample-size studies, caution is needed in interpreting either the presence or absence of findings. Much of orgasmic experience can probably be explained as an intensification of sexual pleasure and a deepening of the previously described altered states of consciousness.
However, it should also be noted that distinct emergent properties Anderson, could be associated with different degrees of sexual absorption, perhaps with qualitatively different dynamics for different levels of trance.
In these ways, the neurophenomenology of orgasm is both similar to and continuous with other forms of sexual trance. However, unique aspects of orgasmic experience arise from major physiological and neuroendocrine changes accompanying sexual climax. Orgasm has been likened to the rush of heroin injection Chessick, ; Holstege et al.
In these ways, the intense pleasure of orgasm is produced by a complex probably opioid-dominated neurochemical cocktail being administered during a peak experience of sensual trance, thus creating an even deeper state of sexual ecstasy. First, they note some forms of epilepsy are capable of generating orgasm-like pre-ictal auras.
Finally, they observe that some aspects of orgasmic expression can be likened to the uncoordinated motor responses present during grand mal seizures and argue that widespread fMRI activations during orgasm suggest similar mass activations as observed in epilepsy. Notably, both sexual stimulation and tooth brushing involve rhythmic stimulation via high-bandwidth sensory channels. Considering the importance of neural synchrony in the pathogenesis of seizures Sobayo et al.
With respect to sexual stimulation, elevated synchrony could promote greater intensity of experience and perhaps paroxysmal events. Depending on where the dysregulated activity spreads, this disrupted information processing could interfere with the ability of the brain to model self and world, thus disrupting consciousness. Theta rhythms are also heavily implicated in models of temporal lobe epilepsy Arcaro et al. Spindle activity is commonly interpreted as a marker of reactivation of hippocampal-based memories Andrade et al.
In theory, increased copulatory-phase theta activity could indicate the establishment of a network of enhanced pre-orgasmic functional connectivity, with subsequent spindle activity indicating the learning of partner characteristics from associated sexual stimulation.
There are multiple evolutionarily sensible reasons for sexual climax not to be triggered too easily, such as avoiding wasteful energetic expenditures, missed mating opportunities, poorly chosen mating partners, potentially dangerous situations from poorly timed distractions, or failing to provide adequately reinforcing stimulation to a desired partner.
In the following sections, I will describe potential factors influencing orgasms as variable-threshold systems, considering both proximate mechanisms and evolutionary selective pressures.
The discussion above has focused on the rhythmic nature of sexual stimulation as being central to erotic experience, suggesting that sexual arousal may be fruitfully understood as a kind of trance state, facilitated by positive feedback between entrainment and pleasurable sensory absorption.
Particularly robust neural activity enabled by entrainment-enhanced synchrony may constitute a means of surpassing the high thresholds of stimulation required for orgasm and associated neuroplastic processes. With respect to sexual stimulation and orgasm, degree of entrainment and overall neuronal excitation are likely to be heavily modulated by factors such as degree of attending or arousal.
This kind of multidetermination for orgasmic responding e. This may be because organisms with complex nervous systems may also encounter or construct complex and dynamic niches within which fitness criteria change rapidly. Or, it may be the case that biased sensitivities to some fitness-indicating features may be too complex to pre-program into the nervous system e. And so, flexible conditions for orgasm may have allowed natural selection to leverage the power of general-purpose learning mechanisms for flexibly adaptive mate choice, rather than solely relying on the evolution and evolvability of specific cognitive adaptations.
Specifically, as previously discussed, the high-threshold system of orgasm causes the release of multiple neuromodulators, which act as meta-plasticity factors to enhance learning of preferred partner characteristics, and thus influence mate choice and bonding.
Given that orgasm is one of the greatest pleasures available to an organism Pfaus et al. In both males and females, these conditioned associations would have the effect of increasing the frequency of mating with particular individuals and thus increasing the probability of reproduction with those sexual partners. Although surpassing a climactic threshold may be a particularly significant experiential event, it is important to keep in mind that sexual acts and orgasms can be qualitatively different and that differences in enjoyment and intensity can modulate the degree of conditioning.
Importantly, the same multicausal conditions for evaluation of sexual partners are not only contingent upon orgasm having occurred but also take place over the entirety of sexual interaction, as well as before initiating sexual activity.
Specifically, human females have large obligate investments for successful reproduction, in that in order for offspring to survive women must invest approximately 9 months of gestation time, along with the associated risks of childbirth. The lower- and upper-bound estimates for expected offspring also differ. Conversely, the variability in reproductive success among human males was relatively vast, with it not uncommon for some males to leave no surviving offspring, but for other males to produce many descendants Karmin et al.
Although both men and women possess evolutionary incentives for novelty preferences via genetic diversification — and perhaps other reasons as well e. With these evolutionary considerations in mind, it should come as no surprise that many men achieve orgasm both reliably and relative to women indiscriminately, and it should be similarly unsurprising that many women have a large number of contingent factors that influence the frequency and quality of their orgasms Gallup et al.
Mechanistically, this kind of adaptation for differential mate choice thresholds may have been achieved by higher thresholds for orgasmic responding having evolved in women, relative to men. However, it should be noted that orgasmic response varies greatly between and within individuals, and in particular, women Garcia et al. This is not to say that male orgasm — and bonding, given sufficient kindling of incentive motivation Pfaus et al.
These greater resource demands may be part of the reason that humans are relatively exceptional in the elaborateness of their sexual interactions, with rhythmic virtuosity and sensitivity being important for sexual prowess on the part of both males and females. The above account is not meant to imply that every aspect of orgasmic expression directly contributes to reproductive success. For example, individuals of the same sex may use orgasms to help establish and maintain relationships that do not contribute to reproduction.
What is orgasm?
L, Smith S. Functional neuroimaging studies of sexual arousal and orgasm in healthy men and women: A review and meta-analysis. Subscribe to the newsletter. Although these mechanisms exhibit extensive homology across species, there may also be important variability based on differences in niche and nervous system complexity Georgiadis, However, that was uncommon and, now that the MRCPsych takes three years to obtain, would no longer be practical. The American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology certifies US physicians in general clinical neurophysiology, epilepsy, and intraoperative monitoring. W, Ketterson E.
Neurology of an orgasm. Sexual rhythms and evolution
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Let's look at some examples from photography used in advertising that are designed to do exactly that- titillate and engage the viewer for as long as possible. They employ certain techniques that aid to this goal: suggestion , ambiguity , anticipation , and telling of a story. What is it that makes this ad so sexy and dopamine-triggering? Well, several things. First of all, she is positioned in a bed, lying down, which makes us think of sex through learned associations.
Easy enough. She also has tousled hair and appears that she has just engaged in sexual activity of some kind- brilliant. What they did was prompt the viewer to engage in a fantasy involving Scarlett- they put all the right elements there to start the story- in a bed, wearing lingerie, pre or post copulation, and we fill in the rest. We are brought into the fantasy state, imagining the sexual scenario, and we feel the rush of dopamine and oxytocin.
Here is another great ad that has oh, so many genius design and psychological elements going on. The couple seen here is in a romantic embrace, just about to kiss.
The fact that they are about to kiss and haven't yet is pretty important. We are completing that sexual scenario in our mind, filling in the blanks, lingering on the subject matter. The longer foreplay of images prolongs the release of dopamine and oxytocin, and basically creates an extended orgasm in your brain. A blatant sexual image induces a large, quick shot of dopamine, but anticipation and suggestion of sensuality produces a much longer pleasure response.
We don't want the image to do all the work for us; we want to travel down that road in our mind ourselves so we can enjoy the ride. Why is ambiguity so arousing? Mystery triggers dopamine. When it comes to sexual innuendo, people want to be brought up to the line as close as possible, without crossing the line.
The "line" is actually the point at which it is obvious to the viewer where you are leading them to imagine sexual activity , but you don't bring them too far, so that they miss out on the pleasure of the experience.
People also generally like feeling in control. If you give enough suggestion- without going too far- which can be a turn off, you allow them to have the illusion that they are choosing their mental path, when in reality, you are leading them there on a leash. We physiologically and mentally like the path of sexual innuendo, we want to be on that path. Yet we want to feel like we are there of our own volition. These are all images that cue sex in our brain, because we know that those elements are logical precursors to sex.
When our brain picks up these cues and recognizes the "sex schema", it fills in the gaps and continues to play out that schema in our mind, living that moment chemically as well. We don't have to be living the moment physically to experience these chemical benefits; visualization- if intense enough- can do this, which is why fantasies are so sexually powerful.
Beginnings and Endings- Telling the Story When we see an image in a sequence, we are automatically inclined to finish the sequence. Just like the nature of forward momentum is to complete a step that we begin taking, so are we mentally driven to complete a story that has been started. When a sexual scene is pictured at a mid-point of activity, we are compelled to finish out the play, to take the elements to their logical conclusion.
The same phenomenon occurs when we are shown a series of images with gaps in the story. Film makers and video directors are masters at this. We are shown flashes of scenes, with just enough suggestion to let us know what is going on, but enough ambiguity to allow for our brain to spend time on it, filling in the blanks.
So what are the take home points? Imagery and suggestion that is blatant and forceful may get a big spike in dopamine, but it will be short-lived. This isn't giving you enough time to feel the attachment effects of oxytocin to the fullest extent possible. The element of mystery is a trigger for dopamine- in figuring out that mystery, we are intrigued, drawn in, motivated to examine it closer.
Bottom line? A little mystery is a good thing.
The Science Of Pleasure: Part III- The Neurological Orgasm | Science
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Note: Please don't include any URLs in your comments, as they will be removed upon submission. We do not store details you enter into this form. Click here to return to the Medical News Today home page. Described as a powerful, pleasurable release of accumulated sexual tension, the orgasm is perceived as the epitome of sexual pleasure for both men and women.
During orgasm, an individual may experience a rise in blood pressure , an increased heart rate, heavy breathing, and rhythmic muscular contractions. But while the signs and sensations of an orgasm might be clear, the underlying mechanisms of this sexual response - particularly its neurophysiological effects - remain uncertain. Study author Adam Safron, Ph. A study reported by Medical News Today earlier this year did just that; researchers suggested that the female orgasm once played a role in ovulation.
For this latest study - recently reported in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology - Safron set out to gain a better understanding of how the human orgasm affects the brain.
To reach his findings , Safron analyzed an abundance of studies and literature that have investigated the brain and body's response to sexual stimulation. He used the information to create a model that sheds light on how rhythmic sexual activity affects rhythmic activity in the brain. Safron explains that rhythmic sexual stimulation - if intense enough and if it lasts long enough - can boost neural oscillations at correlating frequencies, a process called "neural entrainment.
This process may be responsible for what Safron describes as a "sexual trance," where sole focus is on the immediate sensation experienced. Turns out this idea is supported by modern understandings of neuroscience. In theory, this could change the way people view their sexuality. Sex is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it's actually an altered state of consciousness.
Interestingly, Safron also identified similarities between orgasms and reflex seizures, noting that both of these experiences can be triggered by rhythmic stimulation that induces rhythmic activity in the brain.
Additionally, the researcher found that the way the brain reacts to rhythmic sexual stimulation is comparable to the way it responds to rhythmic music and dance. He adds that rhythmic music and dance have served as a key part of mating for hundreds of millions of years, and his findings are consistent with this fact. Learn how gender and sexual orientation might influence orgasms. What is orgasm?
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