Women often crib that some men prefer soccer to sex. Now, a new study has finally found the reason -- for blokes, watching their home team score is like indulging in carnal pleasures.
Researchers have found that when football lovers watch their team scoring goals, an immediate activity triggers in the brain's anterior cingulate cortex, an area associated with intense pleasure and sexual arousal.
According to lead researcher John McLean at Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, "Our main aim was to exploit the passion that some people have for sport and capture the acute and intensely pleasurable feeling experienced by supporters when a goal is scored.
"Our results show the part of the brain associated with intense pleasure, and which has been associated with arousal, is most active at the time a goal is scored, compared to other times."
In fact, the researchers have based their findings on an analysis of brains of nine football fans who watched a series of video clips of goals scored by their local team, leading British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported.
Each of the 30 clips was four second long, to avoid boredom setting in, with three seconds of build up followed by the goal. For comparison, scans were also taken when the men were watching 30 clips where a goal was missed, and 52 which showed open play away from the goal.
The results revealed that activity in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain was substantially higher when a goal was scored than when chances were missed.
"This pleasure stimulus might evoke responses similar in nature to that of goals being scored. This study has measured the response of ardent soccer fans to goals and it is clear that this is a particularly strong emotional stimulus.
"Whether it is as powerful a stimulus as sex, I don't know; perhaps for some people. It might be difficult, however, to do a study with people having sex in a scanner," McLean was quoted as saying.
The study has been published in the latest edition of the 'Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging' journal.