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This Is Your Brain, Aroused

Illustration for article titled This Is Your Brain, Aroused

It's been sixty years since scientists first figured out which part of the brain processes stimulation to which part of the body — on a man. It took til this year for someone to thoroughly map the same for a woman's body.


Using functional MRI, scientists created images of sensory responses in the brain while women stimulated their clitorises, vaginas, cervixes, and nipples. Oh, and just for fun, their thumbs and big toes.

Illustration for article titled This Is Your Brain, Aroused

They discovered that substantially different parts of the brain are activated when, for example, clitori were stimulated as opposed to the frontal vaginal wall. Lead researcher Barry R. Komisaruk told New Scientist that for an unspecified number of women, nipple stimulation led to genital activation. "When I tell my male neuroscientist colleagues about this, they say: 'Wow, that's an exception to the classical homunculus. But when I tell the women they say: 'Well, yeah?'"

Meanwhile, an earlier study in Switzerland showed early indications that "stimulating the clitoral nerve can improve symptoms of urinary incontinence," but the science has a ways to go before handing out vibrators to senior citizens as treatment. At least for this.

Sex On The Brain: What Turns Women On, Mapped Out [New Scientist]
Women's Clitoris, Vagina, And Cervix Mapped On The Sensory Cortex: fMRI Evidence [Wiley]

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Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought of Full Metal Alchemist when the word "homunculus" came up.