To their surprise, scientists led by McGill University in Canada have found that women have higher levels of activity going on in their brains than men when they feel sexually aroused.
The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, involved 20 women and 20 men. The participants were shown a mixture of erotic clips and clips from the comedy show Modern Family. During this time, their brain activity was measured using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which uses radio waves to create an internal image of the body, and in this case, the brain. The genital arousal of the volunteers was also measured using heat-sensing cameras.
Those involved in the study were also given a device with four buttons that allowed them to signal to the researchers whenever they experienced an increase or decrease in sexual excitement.
Interestingly, the results showed that when the women were “turned on”, their brains were more stimulated than the brains of their male counterparts. The researchers pointed out in their study that these results are surprising as previous research suggests that men experience a stronger link between subjective arousal and genital arousal than women.
Nonetheless, “there were no brain regions in men with stronger brain-genital correlations than in women," the team wrote.
"Perhaps women’s rating of their sexual arousal responses might be more influenced by the visual features of erotic stimuli than their peripheral physiologic responses,” they added.
However, commenting on the new research, Qazi Rahman, a psychology lecturer at King's College London, told The Times that while he thought the results were “interesting”, more research is needed to confirm the results. “I think it’s a case of wait and see if these findings are replicated before any further conclusions can be drawn," he said.
Previous research has shown that women become aroused just as quickly as men. This study also used thermal imaging to measure genital arousal while men and women watched erotic films, finding that both sexes start to become aroused within about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, another past study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found that women have higher levels of activity in several areas of their brain than men, some of which are closely linked to things like impulse control, anxiety, and mood.
Therefore, perhaps it's not that much of a surprise that women seem to have a bit more going on in their brains when sexually aroused than men.