Sex and booze can be dangerous bedfellows, inspiring everything from consensual drunken hookups you'd rather forget to outright assault. The brain chemistry that drives us to engage in dangerous behavior in the bedroom or in the bottle are closely related, too. In two recent studies, Duke University scientists were able to map brain profiles linked to risky sex and alcohol abuse in young people, which they say could also help predict the likelihood of future risky behaviors.
Using a sample of 759 male and female undergraduate students, researchers employed non-invasive MRI's to gauge brain activity in the ventral striatum (the reward center of the brain) and the amygdala (the decision making/emotional center of the brain). According to one study published in Molecular Psychiatry, those with an inverse imbalance of activity in these areas are more likely to engage in "problem drinking." Both an overactive ventral striatum and an underactive amygdala or an underactive ventral striatum and overactive amygdala inspire alcohol abuse.
In a different study on sexual behavior and the brain published in The Journal of Neuroscience, the same brain activity that causes problem drinking was found in men with a high number of sexual partners. Interestingly, women with a high number of sexual partners had high activity in both parts of the brain, which, according to PsychCentral, indicates both high reward and high threat and suggests that "the amygdala signal is representing different things in men and women.” Here are 3 more things about your brain and sex you might not know:
1. Orgasms stimulate our brains, too
When you climax, your brain is basically hijacked by pleasure, and at least 30 different areas are activated. This neurological stimulation lasts about 10 seconds for men, and 20 seconds for us lucky ladies.
2. Sex addiction doesn't look like other addictions in the brain
Recent brain imaging studies show that the brain on porn is nothing like the brain on drugs, which is why the American Psychiatric Association has yet to recognize porn addiction officially as a diagnosis.
3. There's a connection between your migraines and sex drive
In a 2006 study from Wake Forest School of Medicine of 68 young adults, researchers found that high serotonin levels are linked with low libido, and people who suffer migraines have low serotonin levels. In fact, people who suffer from migraines reported a sex drive about 20 percent higher than those who get regular tension headaches.