Why I Love and Hate “Game”

Yes, it’s that special time of year again – time for flamboyant bouquets and chalky candy to appear at office desks – time for Facebook pages to drown in cloying iconography – time for self-labeled “forever aloners” to dredge the back alleys of OKCupid in last-ditch desperation – and time for me to load up my trusty gatling crossbow with oxytocin-tipped darts and hit the streets. Oh, and it’s time for everyone to complain about how misogynistic all this “Game” stuff is. So, while I guess I could write about, say, a new study that says cutting your romantic partner some slack can make him or her more…

I Be Strokin’

Watching another person being softly caressed activates very similar brain regions to those that actually allow us to feel a soft touch, says a new study. The sensation of gentle touch is conveyed by a specific type of neuron – tactile C (CT) afferents – found only in hairy skin. These neurons respond most strongly to soft touches and “caress-like” speeds, and send signals to a brain region called the posterior insula, which helps interpret bodily sensations like pain, warmth or cold, heartbeat, a full bladder or stomach, and balance – and also, interestingly enough, the physical feelings associated with music, laughter, and empathy. What this…

Desirable Memories

Women seem to remember information better if they hear it in a low-pitched male voice, a new study suggests. But the conclusions drawn from the study’s data – namely, that women’s memories are attuned to the voices of sexually desirable men – are a bit shakier. Let’s break this research down and see what it’s really all about. As the journal Memory & Cognition reports, a team led by David Smith at the University of Aberdeen started by selecting a group of 45 female volunteers. The women were shown pictures of objects, while they listened to manipulated recordings of high- and low-pitched male and…

Sexy Neuroscience II

a.k.a. The Revised Homunculus A new study has mapped brain sensory fields for the clitoris, vagina, uterine cervix, and nipples – and it turns out that nipple stimulation activates very similar responses to those evoked by genital contact. Yes, that’s right: fMRI scans are, once again, teaching men how to be better at sex – while telling women things they already knew. More surprising (or maybe not so surprising, actually) is the fact that most of these sensory linkages had never been mapped in the female brain before. Here’s how it breaks down: by measuring activity patterns in the somatosensory cortex, the…

Sexy Neuroscience

Q. Would you like to hear about a study that involves the keywords “fMRI” and “orgasms?” A. Yes. Yes you would. A team of neuroscientists at Rutgers are working to unravel the neurophysiological correlates of female sexual arousal and climax. What they’re finding, intriguingly enough, is (gasp!) that creativity and empathy are just as crucial to a woman’s sexual pleasure as physical stimulation is – and maybe even moreso. Explicit sexual fantasizing activates most of the same brain regions as an equivalent series of physical touches. “More than 30 areas of the brain are active during the event,” one article says, “including…