Al Fin, You Sexy Thing!

24 September 2006

Does Pornography Make Us Think We Are Having Sex?

A recent post in The Frontal Cortex blog suggests that the reason pornography is such a big business ($14 billion US per year) is that pornography makes us think we are having sex. Amusingly, several commenters at the site became tripped up in the semantics of the blog-claim, without thinking through what was actually being said.

Of course people know the difference between watching a porn video and actually having sex. But there are indeed brain centers that are active during sex, that are also triggered by viewing porn. That was demonstrated by fMRI results published recently. Interestingly, sexual orientation in the experiment was clearly demonstrated in the fMRI apparatus, with gay men reacting to the sight of aroused male genitalia the same way as heterosexual women did, and with lesbians reacting to the sight of aroused female bodies the same way as heterosexual men reacted.

Apparently in pheromone research, the same principle applies--lesbians and straight men are aroused by the same female pheromones, and gays and straight women are aroused by the same male pheromones.

Presumably the same arousal occurs according to sexual orientation, regardless of race, religion, or occupation, as long as the participant is past puberty and not into senescence. Pornography and pheromones bypass all the social and religious programming that society tries so hard to instill into its citizens. Our brains just do not give much of a damn about all that when confronted with a larger imperative. It is the way we are made.

Hat tip, Omnibrain.

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