by Viatcheslav Wlassoff, PhD - There is no doubt that our sexual behavior is controlled by our brain. The brains of males and females are different and work differently when it comes to sex. But what exactly determines the difference in sexual behavior and traits between the genders?
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There is no doubt that our sexual behavior is controlled by our brain. The brains of males and females are different and work differently when it comes to sex. But what exactly determines the difference in sexual behavior and traits between the genders?
Sigmund Freud believed that sex drive is the most powerful motivating force in our lives. Freud theorized that procreation of the species is an overriding priority for any organism. Human beings are driven to higher levels of growth and development due to sensual and sexual development. But where does our sex drive, which is such a powerful motivator of behavior, actually come from?
Sexual drive and desire is the result of an orchestration between our sensory systems (vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch), the endocrine/hormonal system, and the autonomic nervous system, which is divided into two branches. The sympathetic system increases our physiological activity in response to an emergency and the parasympathetic system restores our physiological activity to normal level after an emergency has passed. Executive decision making processes are regulated by the right frontal lobe, the part of the brain behind the right side of the forehead.
Sex in regions of the brain
Sexual behavior is regulated in various part of the brain, including the hypothalamus. This structure is in our emotional control center which also regulates hunger, appetite, thirst, and body temperature. Basically, the hypothalamus is responsible for the short-term and long-term survival of our bodies, and thus the viability of the species. Without food or water, or without the ability to regulate our body temperature, we would not survive long. Without sex, there would be no procreation of our species. This area of the brain is associated with sexual desire.
The amygdala is near the hypothalamus, and is responsible for alerting us to changes in our environment detected by our senses. This part of the brain is also associated with sexual arousal. During sexual arousal, our bodies show the same signs as they would in a life-threatening emergency: muscle tension, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, perspiring, pupillary dilation, and tunnel vision.
The nucleus accumbens is the pleasure center of the brain. Anything that is pleasurable will activate the nucleus accumbens. Dopamine, a neurochemical messenger associated with pleasure, reward, and reinforcement, flows into this area, and gives this message: that was fun/ felt good/tasted good/smelled good, don’t forget, do it again. A similar mechanism has been found even in organisms as simple as nematodes, which will choose food over sex, and demonstrate the ability to remember past sexual encounters.