How and where does the female brain process genital touch?

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The researchers were able to locate the area where the female brain processes genital touch. Photo editing by Stephen Kelly. Juan Moyano / Stocksy
  • Methods of limited precision have made it difficult to understand where the female brain processes genital touch.
  • A new method of precise female genital stimulation has shown that stimulation is received and processed in the somatosensory cortex of the brain.
  • The area of ​​genital representation in the somatosensory cortex varies between women and the type of stimulation.
  • The thickness of the area in the brain changes with the frequency of intercourse.

In a new study, precise mapping of the female brain has found the exact location responsible for receiving and processing genital touch.

The study, published in the journal JNeurosci “Unequivocally locates the field of female genital representation in the somatosensory cortex”, notes the main author Prof. Christine Heim from the Berlin Institute of Medical Psychology.

Location has been a controversial topic due to the imprecise methods researchers have used previously. Until now, studies only examined focal stimulation in males.

Funded by the NeuroCure center of excellence, the study was a joint effort between researchers in biology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroimaging and neuroscience. It aimed to understand the impact of genital stimulation on the female brain and its ability to change.

The researchers studied 20 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 45 without psychiatric, neurological or sexual disorders or physical illness. The participants each completed a questionnaire and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during two different types of sensory stimulation, one precise and the other localized. Structural MRI assessed the thickness of the mapped area in the brain.

Researchers assessed sexual pleasure and arousal during clitoral stimulation using a seven-point test. visual analog scale.

The fMRI analysis allowed the identification of the activated region of the brain for each participant and the calculation of the individual patterns of response to each method of stimulation.

The precise location of the representation varied from person to person, but all showed an activation of the postcentral gyrus, a ridge on the parietal lobe. It is one of the four main areas of the brain and contains the somatosensory cortex.

The researchers found that the thickness of the area changed with the frequency of intercourse, suggesting its ability to change structurally to reflect its use.

The study provides valuable data on the treatment of genital stimulation in the female brain. In an interview with Medical News Today, Prof. Heim explained:

“The study is of great importance because it opens up a new and previously neglected area of ​​research concerning the processing of genital sensory stimuli at the brain level in healthy women and in women with clinical conditions, such as sexual dysfunction, or after aversive exposures. “

Continuing, she said MNT that “Such research will be important and critical for [understanding] neural mechanisms underlying clinical conditions such as sexual dysfunction or the neural consequences of sexual abuse.

The study also offers a new methodological approach for the design of clinical studies to better understand the impact of sexual disorders on the brain and the neural consequences of sexual abuse.

“These studies will help us understand the neural basis of clinical conditions and such clinical results will benefit affected women. We hope that with these studies, we can identify the brain mechanisms that contribute to sexual dysfunction or the consequences of sexual abuse, which is necessary to identify and develop interventions that can reverse or prevent these brain mechanisms, ”said Dr Heim .

There were limitations within the small scale study. The majority of participants involved were of European descent, had higher education, were heterosexual, right-handed, and lived in monogamous relationships. A larger study cohort is needed to be able to generalize the results to larger populations.

The take-home message from the study is that the tools and methods provided by this research may lead to the discovery of “brain mechanism-based markers,” which could lead to interventions to treat clinical conditions and the effects of abuse. sexual.


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