Sexual Pleasure: Brain of men and women react the same way to pornography, a new study reveals

If you are one of the people who believe that men are generally more interested in watching pornography than women because of the sexual gratification they get from it, then this may be the right time to begin to challenge your perception.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found evidence that points to the fact that the female brain respond to pornography in the same way as those of males.

In the study, conducted by researchers at Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, data from thousands of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) shot while volunteers watched erotic contents, were analysed.

Data were analysed from 61 studies that involved sexual responses in human brain as volunteer participants watched pornographic pictures or were shown pornographic images during MRI scanning. A total of 1,850 individual participated in the study.

From the findings of the researchers, there were no marked differences based on biological gender in the ways the brain responded to the images.

The areas of the brain studied – the cortical region and amygdala – fired almost identically, though the women reacted less positively to the materials they were shown.

It is generally believed that men are more aggressive when it comes to the search for sexual pleasure because of differences in response to visual sexual stimuli. Even online data seem to lend credence to this belief. For example, more men watch porn online than women.

Thus, it is widely held that men are more interested in sex, sensual and sexual pleasure due to the fact that they get more easily visually stimulated than women.

If this widely held belief were true, then it could follow that there may be some differences in the way the brain of men process sexual information and images, which should be different from those of women. However, this is not so.

This new finding challenges that notion. Such belief might just be held from social construct rather than neuro-imaging processing, the researchers noted.

“Following a thorough statistical review of all significant neuroimaging studies, we offer strong quantitative evidence that the neuronal response to visual sexual stimuli, contrary to the widely accepted view, is independent of biological sex. Both men and women show increased activation in many cortical and subcortical brain regions thought to be involved in the response to visual sexual stimuli, while the limited sex differences that have been found and reported previously refer to subjective rating of the content.”

If you are more academically inclined, then you can read more about the study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Samuel Abiona

Samuel Abiona

Samuel Abiona is a medical doctor by training and a writer by passion. Samuel holds a postgraduate degree in Public Health. He believes that communicating medical knowledge goes beyond writing technical reviews. Samuel thus uses his expertise in public health and health systems research to transmit technical information for both academic and general audience. Please email samuel.abiona@essaysinhealth.com to contact this author directly or use the contact page and your information will be passed on to him.