Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

PET scan during orgasms (like heroine shots).

  1. Nov 10, 2003 #1
    New information on human orgasm by using PET-scans (by Prof. Holstege of the University og Groningen.


    Studies about sex and the brain also attracted a good deal of attention.

    A team of Dutch researchers, for instance, offered some novel findings about what happens, beyond the obvious, during the male orgasm. They recruited 11 heterosexual couples to do what comes naturally, except this time with the man's skull immobilized in a positron emission tomography (PET) scanning machine.


    pdf file with brainscan photo's:
    http://biology.uky.edu/Cooper/Class PDFs/Bio350Fall/maleBrain.pdf

    Dutch article of University of Groningen: http://www.rug.nl/med/nieuws/polsslag/ps20orgasme. [Broken]
    I am sure Dutch speaking Monique is able to give a very efficient summary of it.

    Of course there was on PF already a thread on orgasm ( https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=448&highlight=orgasm ) but this new information seems very important to me.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    GRONINGEN!! lol, had to say that
  4. Nov 10, 2003 #3
    Re: Re: PET scan during orgasms (like heroine shots).

    Yes. here we see again that Holland is really progressive. No Taboo. ;-)
  5. Nov 10, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Ofcourse I can..

    pulse 20: research on the brainactivity during an orgasm.
    "Sometimes you just have to have guts"

    Neuro-anatomist Gert Holstege and assistant in training (Ph.D. student) Janniko Georgiadis for the first time recorded the brainactivity during an orgasm of heterosexual couples. Interesting for the media, ofcourse, but also a scientific highpoint. A follow-up study is underway.

    My paraphrasing:

    They comment that they have had lots of media attention. The interviewer asks how they got to the idea. They accidentially ran into it during an animal research project. If you scratch a cat in heat (?) on its back, it will automatically go into a mating posture. This is not a simple reflex, but controlled by the brain. When they knew that they wanted to know what happens during sexual arrousal of an orgasm in the human brain.

    The interviewer asks, how do you organize such a project? They started from scratch, worldwide noone had before done research on orgasms. There is a scientific taboo. That makes the research high risk. They didn't know how to recruit research participants, and whether humans überhaupt could perform under a PET-scan. They had to hold their head completely still, but also had to finish in a tight scedule. In the experiment, radioactive water is injected into the bloodcirculation. That is very tricky. When the water reaches the brain, you have 40 seconds to make a PET-scan. In those 40 seconds an orgasm has to take place, but there are 7 minutes of preparation time to get to this point.

    Before they started, they first asked collegues in the US what they thought of the research. They didn't want to come forth as 'dirty men' in literature. But the reactions were clearly: do it. Eventually the granting agent NWO (dutch scientific research) didn't dare to take the risk. The commity of AZG (?) did. That was the last drop, sometimes you just have to have guts.

    What exactly takes place in the brain? From their scans it is apparent that the 'rewarding centre' in the middle of the brain fires off during an orgasm. That is what they expected. The same pattern you see after a heroineshot. What WAS surprising is that too the small brain (the cerebellum) were very active. That was very novel. The function of the small brain is still unknown. The idea is that the cerebellum mainly coordinates bodyily movement. But with women who were faking an orgasm, and thus make the same movements, such activity in the small brain was not seen. This is an indication that the small brain are involved in emotional control. Such a direct link has never before been made. But it explains, for example, that people from whom a tumor had been removed from the small brain are emotionally different.

    What else? They have also seen that a different part of the brain, the amygdala, goes down. The amygdala is mainly active in dangerous, stressfull situations; it makes a person alert. But not during intercourse. That is logical: you can only have intercourse when you feel safe. Maybe they have tumbled into an evolutionairy mechanism, where you trade a piece of personal safety for the production of offspring.

    Going for the orgasmpil? Now they know which brain areas are active, they indeed could look more focussed for chemicals that are involved in sexual arousal and orgams. They know, for instance, that those areas contain cells that produce dopamine. It is also known that Parkinson patients, who through medication again get dopamine in their brain, get sexually aroused at the weirdest moments. They have just got permission for a follow-up study, which looks into the dopamine release during an orgasm. Maybe that they in this way can make the first step towards a focussed therapy. The firm Pfizer, the producent of Viagra, is already interested.

    Article originally written by: Eddy Brand, last modified 7 nov 03

    I am surprised that they claim that this is the first research ever done on orgasms. I know about MRI scans, where the couple was lying in a magnetic supercoil. The heroine/orgasm link was also already know to me for quite a few years.. ? Another thing.. a professor once told me that they measured the internal pH of a woman during orgasm, which steeply drops *edit, I mean, becomes more neutral* (in order not to kill the sperm), I heard that story over three years ago.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  6. Nov 10, 2003 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Re: Re: PET scan during orgasms (like heroine shots).

    The only thing is that Groningen is not in Holland, but in The Netherlands

    A mistake often made (most people don't even know of The Netherlands), but Holland are just 2 out of the 12 provinces :wink:
  7. Nov 10, 2003 #6
    Thanks Monique I sure almost everyone will appreciate your translation.
    Please tell us more ...

    I heard on the radio an interview with Prof. Holstege. He was still looking for more volunteers.
    But be aware: Travel and Hotel costs on your own account!
  8. Nov 10, 2003 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yeah, well, it comes in handy if you can read and type at the same time, huh

    On what? As I said, those things I heard over three years ago. I guess the MRI and heroine were two documentaries, and the pH thing was a personal account of a professor who was wondering how they measured it (talk about dutch openess.. I wasn't entirely happy with the frank nature of the question :P)

    haha, well, I'll pass thank you very much some of my friends were very involved in those psycological tests, which they try to find research participant for, earning a dollar 5-10 for 30 min of time. But I guess Groningen a little too far out of the way for them :wink:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook