Not that I was prior to now but I really can’t continue to rely on Boing Boing’s science reporting… There seems to frequently be critical details missing -OR- they’ve grossly (even dangerously) over-simplified the case.
W/r/t/ “the orgasm article”, it seems they’ve done us all the great favor of verbatim posting Holstege’s description as “women … not [having] any emotional feelings” during orgasm which we know is
- making a series of very huge assumptions about what PET scans measure
For those that don’t know, Wikipedia has a good description on what a PET scan is. The short version? It measures how much glucose various parts of the brain are using at a given moment.
The over-simplification? That glucose usage is directly correlated with activation. A better explanation of Holstege’s findings might be: Other brain processes are actively inhibiting activity in those brain regions…
The Holstege piece on NewScientist.com also fails to illuminate that the hippocampus is heavily involved in learning and memory. Perhaps that area is inhibited in an evolutionary attempt to link the pleasurable affects with a given partner? Hmm…? Hmm…!?!?
The take-home paragraph:
The results of the study are striking. As the women were stimulated, activity rose in one sensory part of the brain, called the primary somatosensory cortex, but fell in the amygdala and hippocampus, areas involved in alertness and anxiety. During orgasm, activity fell in many more areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, compared with the resting state….
- OF COURSE activity is going to be raised in the somatosensory cortex — that’s the part of the brain that maps sensory perceptions of all kinds — its activity is elevated when you grab a block of cheese! (ferchrissakes…)
- Saying …the amygdala and hippocampus, areas involved in alertness and anxiety… leaves out a lot of very important things like the fact that the amygdala plays a major role in “emotional learning and memory” not to mention the previously alluded to hippocampal role in learning and memory (esp. w/r/t/ spatial orientation, for e.g.)
- …and let’s not even get started about how the prefrontal cortex is not elaborated upon AT ALL in the aforementioned article…
ATTENTION BOING BOING CREW: STOP TAKING THESE SO-CALLED SCIENTIFIC REPORTS AT FACE VALUE.
currently playing: G. Pal Productions “Close To You”