A new study has revealed that our brain processes pictures of nude bodies more efficiently than pictures of clothed bodies. Most people like to look at pictures of nude or scantily clad human bodies.
Looking at nude bodies is sexually arousing, and a nude human body is a classic subject in art. Advertising, too, has harnessed half-clothed models to evoke positive images about the products advertised.
Now, researchers at the University of Tampere and the Aalto University, Finland, have found that the perception of nude bodies is boosted at an early stage of visual processing.
In the study, participants were shown pictures of men and women in which the models wore either normal everyday clothes or swimsuits, or were nude.
At the same time, visual brain responses were recorded from the participants’ electrical brain activity. This method allows researchers to investigate the early stages of visual information processing.
The results showed that, in less than 0.2 seconds, the brain processes pictures of nude bodies more efficiently than pictures of clothed bodies.
In fact, the less clothing the models in the pictures were wearing, the more enhanced was the information processing: the brain responses were the strongest when the participants looked at pictures of nude bodies, the second strongest to bodies in swimsuits, and the weakest to fully clothed bodies.
Male participants’ brain responses were stronger to nude female than to nude male bodies, whereas the female participants’ brain responses were not affected by the sex of the bodies.
The results showed that the brain boosts the processing of sexually arousing signals.