50 Shades of Brain: Sex From Neuropsychology Point of View

(…) There was that small indentation at her [Katharine] throat we called the Bosphorus. I [Count] would dive from her shoulder into the Bosphorus. Rest my eye there. I would kneel while she looked down on my quizzical as if I were a planetary stranger. She of the quizzical look. Her cool hand suddenly against my neck on a Cairo bus. Taking a closed taxi and our quick-hand love between the Khedive Ismail Bridge and the Tipperary Club. Or the sun through her fingernails on the third-floor lobby at the museum when her hand covered my face (…)

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatjie

So here we are in the middle of this classic scene of romance, where, if we read between the lines (or watch the film) two lovers having the most amazing experience that brings lots of benefits from pleasure, smoother skin, physical condition improvement, calories burning, mental health wellness to generation survival. Lots of pressure, ah? But let’s stay romantic.

Have you ever wondered what can happens in their… heads?

Some people had and thanks to them, today, using fMRI technique we are able to analyse brain activity during an act of sex. Let’s go through the act from the beginning, using our film characters as a case study.

First, an attractive visual stimulus, in this case – Katharine’s the Bosphorus – makes Count’s brain go like crazy, stimulating blood pressure, increasing heartbeat, regulating chemicals, and responding to the stimuli. Every time he touches her thousand of nerves relay pleasure signals to his brain through Central Nervous System(CNS).

Then, behind her left eye, the brain region called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, associated to behaviour control, voice of reason and self-evaluation is slowing down, she is focused much more on the act instead of how she is acting (no wonder lovers look passionately, wild, brutal and funny at the same time).

limbic systemThey are getting a sex flush and that is possible thanks to the limbic system that includes hippocampus- responsible for memory and fantasies, and amygdala- emotional part of the brain involved in sexual functioning, fear, and aggression. A decrease in both the areas helps to monitor Katharine’s fear and anxiety during a climax (that is crucial to reach the climax).

The reward center of their brains- the nucleus accumbens- gets a flood of dopamine, making them feel amazing, just like chocolate, caffeine or cocaine, which means sex can be as much addictive as drugs.

And finally, if we stretch our imagination a bit longer, we could see:
1) sense of bliss- thanks to “happy hormone”- serotonine
2) post- orgasm, stoned facial expressions, because of cerebellum- responsible for increased muscle tension related to sexual stimulation
3) Katharine’s cry- because of combinations endorphins being released and heightened emotions and
4) Count’s snoring – as male orgasm is the equivalent of having a shot of diazepam.

Will they meet again? Sure they will, Katharine will meet Count again and she will get even closer to him, thanks to brilliant scenario and increased “cuddle hormone”- oxytocin- that is associated with trust, security and bonding.

And they would live happily ever after.

The Pure Mag Team