Study finds women's brains do not 'turn off' during orgasm

Researchers find build up of activity in parts of women's brains associated with memory, emotion that peak with physical pleasure.

According to a new research conducted by the Rutgers University in Newark, a woman’s brain gets more active, not less, as she approaches orgasm.

The research team performed detailed brain scans on women leading up to, during and after orgasm and found a slow build up of activity in the parts of women’s brains associated with memory, movement and emotion that reached its peak along with her physical pleasure.

The research overturned previous studies that suggested that parts of woman’s brains ‘turn off’ when she orgasms.

Instead, they found a slow build of activity in the parts of women’s brains associated with memory, movement and emotion that peaked when her physical pleasure did.

The study found women being asked to orgasm twice, in whatever order they preferred, by stimulating themselves and by being stimulated by their partners, all while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.

Dr Wise’s study found that, contrary to popular belief, women’s brains do not need to ‘turn off’ in order for them to get turned on enough to orgasm.

In fact, as a woman approaches orgasm, ‘a lot of different areas [of the brain] start ramping up: sensation and integration of sensation, motor areas - orgasm involves a lot of muscle tension in the body - and areas that come online when we are experiencing something rewarding,’ said Dr Wise.

Her observations were essentially opposite to the findings of a 2005 study done in the Netherlands by Dr Gert Holstege at the University of Groningen.

Dr Wise’s research also revealed how just thinking about sexual stimulation could ‘light up’ certain areas of the brain.

She hopes that research into how the brain responds to sexual pleasure can ‘open a window into the pleasure brain.’

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