Health

Study decodes how sex & intimacy rewires brain

In a groundbreaking study, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have created the first brain-wide map of brain regions in prairie voles to understand the link between sex and lasting love. Prairie voles, known for forming long-term monogamous relationships, exhibit a storm of brain activity across 68 distinct regions during mating and bonding.

The study, published in the journal eLife, identified brain activity correlated with mating, bonding, and the emergence of a stable bond. Surprisingly, bonding males and females showed nearly identical patterns of brain activity, defying previous beliefs about sex differences in brain mechanisms.

Using a high-resolution method, researchers pinpointed active brain cells in prairie voles and studied over 200 voles during mating and bonding. The strongest predictor of activity in the identified brain regions was male ejaculation, suggesting a profound emotional state experienced by both males and females during bonding.

Steven Phelps, Professor of integrative biology at UT Austin, expressed surprise at the findings, stating, “The brain and behaviour data suggest that both sexes may be having orgasm-like responses, and these ‘orgasms’ coordinate the formation of a bond.” This implies that orgasms could play a role in promoting connection, as seen in humans.

The research opens up new avenues for understanding how humans form and maintain close relationships by identifying brain regions not previously associated with bonding. The study sheds light on the intricate neurological processes involved in the formation of lasting bonds in mammals like prairie voles.

IANS

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