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Torbet, G. (2012). Komisaruk, B. R. (2011). An fMRI Video Animation Time-Course Analysis of Brain Regions Activated during Self-Stimulation to Orgasm in Women. Paper presented at the Society for Neuroscience Conference, Washington, DC, U.S.A.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 14(1):120-121.

(2012). Neuropsychoanalysis, 14(1):120-121

Komisaruk, B. R. (2011). An fMRI Video Animation Time-Course Analysis of Brain Regions Activated during Self-Stimulation to Orgasm in Women. Paper presented at the Society for Neuroscience Conference, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

Review by:
Georgiana Torbet

Another conference presentation that has been getting the media all a-flutter recently is study that includes video footage of an fMRI scan of a woman reaching orgasm due to self-stimulation. Although some similar research has been conducted in recent years, the inclusion of video footage has garnered a great deal of attention. Although once again there is a lack of primary data available and the scan was only performed on one woman, the video is certainly striking. At peak of orgasm, almost all brain regions are active—in fact, the researchers claim that the only time when more of the brain is active is during an epileptic seizure.

These results are certainly interesting, but how valuable can neuroimaging be to sex research? Data from one person can hardly be considered applicable to all women; however, it is a starting point for a still poorly understood phenomenon. Until relatively recently, the medical and scientific establishment denied that female orgasm existed at all, and female sexual functioning was the subject of a great deal of myth and spurious assumption. This research has been trumpeted by some as proof of the “existence” of female orgasm, but this assertion mistakenly assumes that brain activations have primacy of truth over behavioral evidence. Rather than showing whether female orgasm exists, this research can show how it is realized by the brain.

The purpose of sex research is not only to discover how sexual functions operate in healthy individuals, but also to assist those individuals who experience sexual difficulties that cause them distress.

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