It's all in the mind: How your brain chemistry can predict your sexual future
06:04 GMT, 23 June 2012
Studying brain activity using medical imaging techniques can help predict sexual activity, according to a new study.
Researchers have discovered that people who show heightened brain activity while watching erotic images are likely to be more sexually active.
Scientists from the University of Dartmouth showed erotica to a group of students, and measured the activity in their brain.
Sex: A new study reveals that brain scans can predict future sexual activity
When the students reported on their sexual activity six months later, those who had shown the greatest response turned out to be more sexually active.
The students who had not reacted as much to the erotic images, by contrast, were much less likely to have engaged in sexual activity.
There are two main factors which control both people's response to sexual stimulation and their sexual behaviour, according to sex therapist and writer Laura Berman.
One of these is chemical – the amount of testosterone in the body.
Testosterone is the principal hormone which controls sex drive, so someone with high levels is more likely both to respond to sexual imagery and to seek out sexual partners.
Brain scan: Monitoring mental activity helps predict a subject's sex life
The other factor, different levels of inhibition about sexuality, is not innate but could be the result of culture and upbringing.
People who have been brought up to associate sex with a sense of shame are less likely to be sexually active, and less likely to enjoy erotic stimulus.
Dr Berman points out that, since the experiment was done in a laboratory environment, those who were inclined to be more reserved would feel especially inhibited, possibly curbing their response to the images.
The study is further proof of the crucial role of the brain in determining both sex drive and sexual pleasure.