Happy Valentine's Day: This Is Your Brain On Orgasm
Short summary of the latest research on the complex physiology of what I will euphemistically term Pleasurable Reproductive Responses (PRRs): "Birds do it. Bees do it. Even epileptic seizures do it." From the LA Times:
In an orgasm orchestra, the genitalia may be the instruments, but the central nervous system is the conductor.Cultivating PRRs has a lot to do with having an undamaged vagus nerve, a sleepy lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and getting the hots for a certain someone helps immensely. Most surprisingly, a precise location in the spinal cord has recently been discovered, which, when shocked, triggers full female responses in the absence of other stimuli. The spines seem to have it, and attendant parasympathetic pattern responses are dazzlingly complex, neurologically resembling an epileptic seizure. A fact with which most of you are thoroughly aware.
Armed with new lab tools and fearless volunteers, scientists are getting first-ever glimpses of how the brain lights up (and, in places, shuts down) when the orgasmic fireworks go off. They're tracing nerves and finding new pathways for pleasure that help explain how people with shattered spinal cords can defy sexual expectations.
To deepen the complexity, even people with severed spinal cords can experience full-on PRRs, and those no-doubt-welcome phenomena flummox the sum total of four thousand years of Western medicinal anatomy: it was considered theoretically impossible, yet it appears to happen via the vagus nerve. That's the longest nerve, which does not travel down the spine but rather along the neck, beside the heart down to below the stomach. The symbol for Valentine's Day, the heart with an arrow through it, was chosen in wisdom, and the archaic "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is newly apropos. In toto, PRRs seem to be more peripherally distributed around the body than previously realized, and presumably coordinate via processes which, although now being mapped as enthusiastically as treasure trails, are not yet understood.
Flowers and chocolates are stimulants by their own rights, proxies to enliven some of the same pleasure centers, dimming the lights on the same frontal areas of reasoning. But the Orgasmatron is coming, having already been successfully used in applied research. So, a question...in terms of etiquette, are electronic gifts OK on Valentine's Day?
(Thanks, SLL, for the articles.)