Sunday, June 18, 2006

A different kind of overdose

An anonymous commenter chides me (here) for the "overdose of merit and reservations" on this blog. So, let me see if I can spend one full day without blogging about these issues. Let me start with a bunch of links to discussions of human sexuality by academics.

Mind Hacks:

The study found that erotic images differently activated the mid part of the female prefrontal cortex (the red area in the image on the left) when compared to other images, within 185ms. Interestingly, this was regardless of how arousing or emotionally strong the images were.

185ms is an incredibly short time for the brain to differentiate between image types, and is almost certainly an automatic response. The prefrontal cortex is known to be involved in attention, and the authors suggest this activity reflects a vigiliance for socially relevant visual scenes.

Pure Pedantry links to a study that found:

The results of the study are striking. As the women were stimulated, activity rose in one sensory part of the brain, called the primary somatosensory cortex, but fell in the amygdala and hippocampus, areas involved in alertness and anxiety. During orgasm, activity fell in many more areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, compared with the resting state [...]

Cognitive Daily, inspired by the movie Bride and Prejudice, goes hunting for comparative studies:

Since arranged marriages and the values that surround them are still common in Korea, Jungsik Kim and Elaine Hatfield decided to survey American and Korean students about their attitudes about these two types of love and their relative levels of happiness. Like love, happiness can be divided into two types: life satisfaction (long-term), and positive emotions (short-term). [...]

And, finally, on this Father's day, Tyler Cowen re-posts an earlier post (by the Marginal Revolution guest blogger Robin Hanson) on "why many women prefer to be courted by cads" [as opposed to dads], a topic that brings out, in the comments section, all kinds of 'theories' to explain this 'phenomenon':

A standard story says that women like cads for short term relationships, to get good sex (i.e., genes), and dads for long term relationships, to get security and comfort (i.e., resources to raise kids). Of course some men are good in both roles, but most men are thought to be better at one role than the other.