A person’s ability to give both themselves and their partner an orgasm may depend on how good they are at keeping a rhythm, according to new research in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology. Study author Adam Safron explains that repeatedly stimulating receptors in the genitals in a regular, pulsing manner may cause waves of synchronized activity to spread through the brain, enhancing the feeling of pleasure while at the same time generating a kind of trance.
Rhythm is a fundamental element of human life, because the neurons in the brain are constantly firing in an oscillating pattern. When an external stimulus – such as music, for example – matches the rhythm of these oscillations, our internal frequencies start to resonate with our external environment. This is known as entrainment, and amplifies the strength of our neuronal signals, leading to an increase in excitement and arousal.
While this explains our love of music, Safron hypothesizes that the same logic can also be applied to our erotic pleasures, whereby the frequency of sexual thrusting resonates with the brain’s intrinsic rhythm, intensifying the feeling of pleasure. In a statement, he explained how “[this] synchronization is important for signal propagation in the brain, because neurons are more likely to fire if they are stimulated multiple times within a narrow window of time.”
Having rhythm can be a big advantage both on the dance floor and in bed. Africa Studio/Shutterstock
To test this theory, Safron examined the existing scientific literature on human orgasms, looking for data that would confirm or refute the idea of entrainment as a major driver of sexual pleasure. In doing so, he found evidence that when the brain becomes flooded with waves of synchronized activity, certain regions responsible for self-awareness – such as the frontal and midline structures – become deactivated, suggesting that the feeling of sexual arousal totally overcomes our consciousness and sends us into a type of trance.
"In theory, this could change the way people view their sexuality,” he said. “Sex is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it's actually an altered state of consciousness."
The paper also suggests that the link between music, dancing, and sex is by no means a coincidence, as many animals choose their mates on the basis of courtship dances, which could provide an indication of their ability to keep a rhythm, and therefore their sexual prowess. In other words, the better you are on the dance floor, the better you are in bed.