We know that during orgasm, people typically experience increased heart rate, a surge in blood pressure, rhythmic muscle contractions, and heavy breathing, but what goes on in the brain?
Until recently that question was difficult to answer since most prior research has examined evolutionary functions of the orgasm, not its neurophysiological effects. However, Adam Safron, Ph.D., at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, recently analyzed data from studies and literature about the brain’s response to sexual stimulation.
From the information gathered, Safron pieced together a model showing how rhythmic sexual activity influences the brain’s rhythmic activity. He discovered that intense sexual stimulation, if it's long-lasting enough, triggers brain oscillations at corresponding frequencies. This process is called neural entrainment, and it may be responsible for generating a trance-like mental state.
“In theory, this could change the way people view their sexuality,” says Safron. “Sex is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it’s actually an altered state of consciousness.”
During his research Safron also noted the brain’s response to rhythmic sexual stimulation is much like its reaction to rhythmic music and dance, and points out that dancing and pulsating music have for centuries been part of human mating rituals.
“[...] though obvious in retrospect, I wasn’t expecting to find that sexual activity was so similar to music and dance, not just in the nature of the experiences, but also in that evolutionarily, rhythm-keeping ability may serve as a test of fitness for potential mates,” said Safron.
While more research is required to fully comprehend our neurophysiological reactions to orgasms, Safron’s work is a start, and gives us a better understanding of why sex and orgasms feel as they do.
Source: Medical News Today
?Photo credit: Phuket