Ever wonder why lustful yearnings are notoriously difficult to suppress? It’s because your brain is wired to love lust, yet you’re about to discover an unexpected activity the brain loves even more. These findings are based on research by neuroscientists who study how your brain’s biology affects your behavior. I’m summarizing their brain report in Discover Magazine.
“Lust sets your whole brain buzzing,” says Alan Safron, a brain research consultant at Northwestern University. Safron peers into the brain, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to probe the brain biology of sexual behavior.
When it comes to lust, neuroimaging confirms that the prurient urge is all-encompassing.
Watching pornography calls upon brain regions associated with sensory interpretation, visual and emotional processing.
It also stimulates the reward-processing ventral striatum, probably due to the satisfying nature of watching erotic stimuli.
Safron says these brain responses are so unique and distinctive that, in the context of an experiment, it is possible to determine whether a man is aroused just by looking at an fMRI brain scan.
Women show a less spectacular response to this erotic stimuli than men, Safron says, and it is unclear why.
If lust is all consuming in a man’s brain, how do we ever control it?
As with other powerful impulses, we try to shut down arousal by calling upon the right superior frontal gyrus and right anterior cingulate gyrus, according to research led by Mario Beauregard of the University of Montreal.
He and others propose that these brain areas form a conscious self-regulatory system that allows us to control our own neural processing—a feat achieved by no other creature.
Which virtuous activity excites your brain as much as lust?
Virtue literally is its own reward — according to findings of Jordan Grafman, chief neuroscientist at a national institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Altruistic behavior sends reward-related brain systems into a pleasurable tizzy—even more so than the prospect of self-interested gain.
Grafman says, “The big punch line is that all things being equal, your reward system fires off a lot more when you’re giving than when you’re taking.”
How can you use these findings to spark up your intimate relationship or attract your great love match?
Experiment with giving more than taking to find out if you feel more pleasure in each interaction with your intimate partner or in a dating relationship. Then see if your mate or date wants to give more in return.
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