In this post: some sexy news about the female brain, then, some careful caveats about brain claims in general.
First off, Time reports on the first three-dimensional movie of a female orgasm. Captured by a team of researchers led by Barry Komisaruk at Rutgers University, the movie shows the brain activity correlated with the orgasm of a single subject. Like most fMRI captures, the ‘heat’ of the colours is correlated with oxygenated blood movement, and thus brain activity – the more rufous the colour, the higher the activation. In the case of an orgasm, the entire brain is dense with activity. (By the way, if you are interested in what it is like to achieve an orgasm in an MRI – the guardian has the scoop here)
In his as-of-yet-unpublished findings, presented to the Society for Neuroscience conference, Komisaruk speculatively links the sequence of brain activation to (presumably, though not mentioned) first-person experiences of such orgasms, third-person observations, and previous literature on orgasm and brain circuitry. This yields some pretty titillating conversation for a scientific finding, such as:
…facial expressions during orgasm (the “O face”) are often indistinguishable from those made in pain, and suggests this may be explained by activity in the insula.