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What happens to the brain during an orgasm

The female orgasm 'illuminates' almost every region of the brain, a new video has shown. The first video taken through an MRI scanner shows that the orgasm affects more than 80 brain regions. VIDEO INSIDE

sex and relationships Updated: Nov 18, 2011 13:58 IST

The female orgasm “illuminates” almost every region of the brain, a new video has shown. The first video taken through an MRI scanner shows that rather than a few isolated areas of the brain being affected, the orgasm affects more than 80 brain regions.

Nan Wise, a 54-year-old sex therapist, volunteered to sit in an MRI scanner while stimulating herself. In the video, levels of brain activity are on a “hot metal” scale, low activity is red, high activity is yellow and white.

The video shows that early on in the process, the activity is limited to just a few areas of the brain, but later it spreads to more than 80 brain regions.

Almost every part of the brain 'iilluminates' during the orgasm - starting with pleasure centres associated with the body and spreading through the whole brain. In the video, levels of brain activity are on a 'hot metal' scale - low activity is red, high activity is yellow and white.

It also shows how activity sparks off in the sensory cortex, in the specific area related to the genitals, but it spreads quickly through the limbic system, involved in emotions and memory.



As orgasm arrives, activity peaks in the hypothalamus, which releases a chemical called oxytocin, and after the orgasm, the activity throughout the brain dies down.



“This visualization shows themagnetic resonance imaging brain data of a participant experiencing an orgasm - and the corresponding relationships seen within these different regions based on oxygen levels in the blood,” the Daily Mail quoted Professor Barry Komisaruk, a psychologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey as saying.



“Oxygen levels are displayed on a spectrum from dark red (lowest activity) to yellow/white (highest).



“As can be observed, an orgasm leads to almost the entire brain illuminating yellow, indicating that most brain systems become active at orgasm,” he added.