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What Turns You On? 10 Fascinating Facts About Sexual Attraction

Your brain is reacting to stimuli and sending out signals that you may not even be aware of.

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Svoboda writes about a study by Claus Wedekind of the University of Laussane in Switzerland in which 49 women were asked to sample sniff clean T-shirts that had been worn by men two nights in a row, thus imbuing them with the men’s distinctive odor (the men were supplied with unscented soap and aftershave). Asked to rate the scent of the T-shirts, the women far and away preferred the T-shirts of men who were “immunologically disimilar” to them, which makes sense as the combination of two different MHC profiles would produce more resistant offspring.

See? You spend all kinds of time and money on gyms, clothing and hair color and all you really needed was already seeping out of your pores. 

The upside is there’s no one out there setting a standard, or, “There’s no Brad Pitt of smell,” as psychologist Rachel Herz put it, so if you can stink you’re in with a chance. And everyone can stink. 

8. Melodies of love.

It’s not exactly news that music and love go together -- or music and any emotion, for that matter. But only recently has science pinpointed exactly what it is about music that makes it  soothe the savage breast…or at least makes you frisky.

ABC News reports that researchers at McGill University in Toronto did PET scans and MRIs on eight participants, age 19-24, while they were listening to self-chosen “chill-inducing” music, and found that while dopamine was present in the brain during the music it spiked up to 9% around the “chilling” passages. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter directly associated with pleasures like eating...and sex.

So while it’s long been obvious that a little well-placed music is as good as a little well-placed smooch, now we know just what chemical it is that makes it so. In fact, in  a study commissioned by Spotify on 18- to 91-year-olds in the UK on the relationship between music and romance, 40% said the background music would be a more likely turn-on than their partner’s touch. 

If any of their partners knew they responded that way you have to wonder how long it would be before the respondents were alone with their music (at last!).  

9. You know how you like to masturbate in public? 

 Well, of course you don’t, for God’s sake. Your social skills aren’t that bad. But people with the rare impairment Kluver-Bucy syndrome suddenly find themselves doing things like that and much worse. Kluver-Bucy is the result of damage to both anterior temporal lobes of the brain.

Altered sexual behavior is not the only symptom, as science journalist Jesse Bering writes in Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? Kluver-Bucy sufferers experience all kinds of alterations including appetite changes, diminished fear responses, memory loss, dementia, and inability to recognize objects. But the sexual change can be pretty severe and scary; Bering describes one female sufferer as masturbating in public and soliciting family members for sex. So while we’ve talked about the normal brain’s response to stimuli -- releasing testosterone or dopamine, etc. -- this is a case of a physical change in the brain making a behavioral change in the person.

If this story doesn’t get you to wear a helmet, wear your seatbelt or otherwise protect your coconut, I don’t know what will. 

10. Whatcha gonna do? 

Finally, your brain does a lot of things in the present associated with sex, but can it actually predict anything about your sexual future?

Actually it can.

Holly Parker, a lecturer on psychology at Harvard University notes in an email that  a study at Dartmouth "found that the extent to which a person’s brain (specifically the nucleus accumbens) perceives sexual pictures as rewarding predicts their sexual behavior six months later.”

 
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