A large-scale study from King's College London explores the link between genetics and sun-seeking behaviors.
- There are a number of physical and mental health benefits to sun exposure, such as boosted vitamin D and serotonin levels and stronger bones.
- Addictions are multi-step conditions that, by definition, require exposure to the addictive agent and have also been proven to have a genetic factor. Countless people are exposed to addictive things, but not all become addicted. This is because of the genetic component of addiction.
- This large-scale study explores the link between sun-seeking behaviors and the genetic markers for addiction.
The benefits of sunlight<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMjI1Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzk0NDUxNH0.lbYbZidJkNXPUcWM6m8cucuzAFOANkqPaIVfJdqkJ4Q/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="d5fcd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f44fcc9a31393c8102803eb50d01a19a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="woman sitting on dock in the sunlight" />
The mental and physical health benefits of sunlight have been heavily researched.
Credit: eldar nurkovic on Shutterstock<p>The benefits of sunlight have been widely discussed for many years. In fact, there are a number of physical and mental health benefits to sun exposure.</p><p><strong>Sunshine (and the lack of) impacts your hormone levels. </strong></p><p>Sunlight (and alternatively, the lack of sunlight) triggers the release of certain hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase serotonin, which is associated with boosting your mood and helping you feel calm and focused. </p><p>Alternatively, dark lighting triggers melatonin, a hormone that is helpful in allowing you to rest and fall asleep. Without enough sunlight, your serotonin levels can dip - and low serotonin levels have been associated with a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder).</p><p><strong>Sunlight can build strong bones. </strong></p><p>Exposure to the ultraviolet-B radiation in the sun's rays can interact with your skin, causing it to create vitamin D. <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to NHS</a>, vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities or bone pain. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2008 study</a> has shown that even 30 minutes in sunlight (while wearing a bathing suit) can boost vitamin D levels. </p><p><strong>Can sunlight actually prevent cancer? </strong></p><p>Although heavy exposure to sunlight has been proven to contribute to certain skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight has actually been shown to have preventative benefits.</p><p><a href="https://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/3/5/1548.full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to a 2008 study</a> from the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, those who live in areas with fewer daylight hours are more likely to have some specific cancers (including but not limited to colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer) than those who live in areas with increased daylight hours.</p><p><strong>Additionally, sunlight has been shown to help people with skin conditions such as psoriasis. </strong></p><p><a href="http://www.who.int/uv/faq/uvhealtfac/en/index1.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to the World Health Organization</a>, sun exposure may also be able to help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice, and acne. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#benefits" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Some research</a> has also indicated the sun benefits people who struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus, and inflammatory bowel disease. </p>
Can you be addicted to the sun?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMjI1Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzE5NTMwOX0.pHOWSr3FcIndYkBAVND1UsD8AheTQmxsePKRi3XvYTw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=31%2C0%2C32%2C0&height=700" id="93c87" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="384e08fdcd535ed2b792eef419af9e2c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="hands holding up the sun" />
The large-scale study examines the link between addiction and sunlight, with some surprising results...
Credit: KieferPix on Shutterstock<p>Addictions are multi-step conditions that, by definition, require exposure to the addictive agent. Due to the increase of serotonin (a chemical in the human body <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin" target="_blank">that has been proven</a> to help reduce depression, regulate anxiety, and maintain bone health), it's natural that being exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight could become somewhat addictive to the human body and mind. We crave things that make us feel good, and sometimes those cravings become something we depend on. This is the very nature of addiction.</p><p>Countless people are exposed to addictive things (substances, medications, and yes, even the sun), but not all become addicted. This is because of the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3506170/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">genetic component of addiction</a>. </p><p>A large-scale study from King's College in London examines more than 260,000 people to better understand how sun-seeking behavior in humans can be linked to genes involving addiction, behavior traits, and brain function. </p><p><strong>The study included two phases:</strong></p><p>Phase one suggested genetics play a role in sun-seeking behaviors and phase 2 helped pinpoint what those genetic markers are.</p><p>Phase 1: The researchers studied the detailed health information of 2,500 twins, including their sun-seeking behavior and their genetics. Identical twins in a pair were more likely to have similar sun-seeking behavior than non-identical twins, indicating that genetics plays a role here. </p><p>Phase 2: The team of researchers then were able to identify five key gene markers involved in this sun-seeking behavior from further analysis of 260,000 participants. Some of the genes indicated have been linked to behaviors traits that are associated with risk-taking and addiction (including smoking and alcohol consumption).</p><p><strong>What does this study really prove? </strong></p><p>Some may think it's natural to become addicted to something that makes you feel good. The physical and mental health benefits of the outdoors have been heavily studied...so what does this study really mean? </p><p>First and foremost, it means more research needs to be done to examine the link between human conditions and exposure to sunlight. Senior author Dr. Mario Falchi explains to the <a href="https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/addicted-to-the-sun-its-in-your-genes" target="_blank">King's College London News Center</a>: "Our results suggest that tackling excessive sun exposure or use of tanning beds might be more challenging than expected, as it is influenced by genetic factors. It is important for the public to be aware of this predisposition, as it could make people more mindful of their behavior and the potential harms of excessive sun exposure."</p><p>Additionally, it could mean alternative treatments, and further research needs to be conducted in terms of how we treat certain conditions that are caused or heavily influenced by human exposure to sunlight. </p>
An intriguing theory explains animals' magnetic sense.
- Some animals can navigate via magnetism, though scientists aren't sure how.
- Research shows that some of these animals contain magnetotactic bacteria.
- These bacteria align themselves along the magnetic field's grid lines.
Magnetotactic bacteria hosts<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTQ2Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDcwMTYxMn0.BZ-cpaTejm38_HCvVoSZ92k58dxnQETahNmKOmB14X4/img.jpg?width=980" id="c6097" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a9f01b7583442ad92a05927c79754f50" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="whale mother and calf" />
A right whale mother and calf
Credit: wildestanimal/Shutterstock<p>One of the paper's authors, Geneticist <a href="https://sciences.ucf.edu/biology/person/robert-fitak/" target="_blank">Robert Fitak</a>,<a href="https://sciences.ucf.edu/biology/person/robert-fitak/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a> is affiliated with the biology department of the <a href="https://www.ucf.edu" target="_blank">University of Central Florida</a> in (UCF) Orlando. Prior to joining the department, he spent four years as a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University investigating the genomic mechanisms responsible for magnetic perception in fish and lobsters.</p><p>Fitak tells <a href="https://www.ucf.edu/news/animals-magnetic-sixth-sense-may-come-from-bacteria-new-paper-suggests/" target="_blank">UFC Today</a>, "The search for a mechanism has been proposed as one of the last major frontiers in sensory biology and described as if we are 'searching for a needle in a needle stack.'"</p><p>That metaphorical needle stack may well be the scientific community's largest database of microbes, the <a href="https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2164-9-75" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Metagenomic Rapid Annotations using Subsystems Technology database</a>. It lists the animal samples in which magnetotactic bacteria have been found.</p><p>The primary use of the database, says Fitak, has been the measurement of bacterial diversity in entire phyla. An accounting of the appearance of magnetotactic bacteria in individual species is something that has previously be unexplored. "The presence of these magnetotactic bacteria had been largely overlooked, or 'lost in the mud' amongst the massive scale of these datasets," he reports.</p><p>Fitak dug into the database and discovered that magnetotactic bacteria have indeed been identified in a number of species known to navigate by magnetism, among them loggerhead sea turtles, Atlantic right whales, bats, and penguins. <em>Candidatus Magnetobacterium bavaricum</em> is regularly found in loggerheads and penguins, while <em>Magnetospirillum</em> and <em>Magnetococcus</em> are common among right whales and bats.</p><p>As for other magnetic-field-sensitive animals, he says, "I'm working with the co-authors and local UCF researchers to develop a genetic test for these bacteria, and we plan to subsequently screen various animals and specific tissues, such as in sea turtles, fish, spiny lobsters and birds."</p>
The bacteria-host relationship<p>While the presence of the bacteria in these particular species is intriguing, further study is needed to be sure they're responsible for other animals' magnetic navigation. Their presence in these species <em>could</em> be just a coincidence.</p><p>Fitak also notes that he doesn't know at this point exactly where in the host animal the magnetotactic bacteria would reside, or other details of their symbiotic relationship. He suggests that they might be found in nervous tissue associated with navigation, such as that found in the brain or eye.</p><p>If confirmed, Fitak's hypothesis could suggest that our own sensitivity to the Earth's magnetic field might one day be enhanced via magnetotactic bacteria in our own individual microbiomes, should they be benign to us as hosts.</p>
Examining the differences between anxiety and COVID-19 symptoms and discussing the possibility of IAD (illness anxiety disorder) during a global pandemic.
- Anxiety can cause symptoms that may mimic (or have you worried about) coronavirus symptoms.
- There are several symptoms of anxiety that are also symptoms of COVID-19, however, there are also key differences in the symptoms of both.
- IAD (illness anxiety disorder) may also lead to some confusion about symptoms. The World Health Organization offers guidelines for when to seek medical attention.
It's important to note the differences in symptoms of anxiety and COVID-19, although some may overlap.
Credit: woocat on Shutterstock<p>During the coronavirus pandemic, many people may be overwhelmed and experiencing higher levels of anxiety. Anxiety can cause symptoms that may mimic (or have you worried about) coronavirus symptoms.</p><p>Additionally, some people may experience illness anxiety disorder (IAD), which is commonly referred to as health anxiety and previously referred to as hypochondria.</p><p><strong>Common symptoms of anxiety: </strong></p><ul><li>Chest pain</li><li>Feeling faint/dizzy</li><li>Chills</li><li>Nausea </li><li>Dry mouth</li><li>Disassociation </li><li>Hot flashes and/or sweating </li><li>Fatigue and/or mental exhaustion</li><li>Muscle aches due to tension/stress</li><li>Shortness of breath </li><li>Numbness </li></ul><p><strong>Symptoms of COVID-19:</strong></p><ul><li>Fever and/or chills</li><li>Cough </li><li>Shortness of breath</li><li>Fatigue</li><li>Headaches</li><li>Muscle aches</li><li>Loss of taste and/or smell</li><li>Congestion</li><li>Nausea and/or vomiting</li><li>Diarrhea</li></ul><p>The symptoms that could present in both cases include shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chest pain, nausea/vomiting, head or muscle aches, fatigue, and chills.<br></p><p>When examining the difference between anxiety symptoms and COVID-19, it's important to note the symptoms of COVID-19 that are <em>not </em>present in anxiety attacks. </p><p><strong>The difference in symptoms </strong></p><p>A person with anxiety may experience heart palpitations, trembling, tingling, or sweating (without a fever). These are all common anxiety symptoms, but not symptoms often associated with COVID-19. </p><p>Meanwhile, a person with COVID may experience symptoms that will not be present in anxiety cases, such as a sore throat, loss of taste/smell, a dry cough, and congestion.</p><p>It's not uncommon for people to experience symptoms (or assume they are experiencing symptoms) of a virus that has reached the level of a global pandemic. This is why it's important to distinguish the differences in the symptoms you're feeling and the actual symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.</p><p>Chest pain, for example, can be felt in both anxiety and coronavirus patients, but there are some key differences in how that chest pain presents. outlines the differences between a panic attack (commonly associated with high anxiety levels) and COVID-19 symptoms. If you're having a panic attack, according to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-symptoms-vs-covid-19-symptoms#chest-pain-comparison" target="_blank">Medical News Today</a>, your chest pain may last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour and feel like sharp, stabbing pains. This is often accompanied by mental symptoms such as negative thoughts and emotions. </p><p>COVID-19 chest pain is slightly different. It will be persistent and feel like more of a pressure than sharp pains. These pains may be accompanied by other flu-like symptoms, such as a cough.</p>
What is illness anxiety disorder (IAD) and how common is it?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDI3NTcxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDQ5MDcwMX0.2TV71vbMTsigdY3isJ7qYvh1hpb0pLgPbqO4-bYOMLA/img.jpg?width=980" id="2dad6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ddeaf604b2cb31bd1e730b6003296b4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="newspaper clippings related to COVID19" />
What is IAD (illness anxiety disorder) and how does it impact you?
Credit: zimmytws on Shutterstock<p>Illness anxiety disorder is the fear or worry that you are, or may become, seriously ill. You may have no physical symptoms, or you may worry that normal sensations or minor symptoms are signs of severe illness.</p><p><strong>How common is illness anxiety disorder (IAD)?</strong> </p><p>IAD is a relatively new disorder, having only been added to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) in 2013. It has replaced the now-obsolete "hypochondria disorder."</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554399/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to research</a>, among the patients who were previously diagnosed with hypochondriasis, about 25 percent of them will meet the criteria for IAD. Patients with IAD typically remain dissatisfied with negative evaluations from health practitioners and may attempt to consult multiple hospitals or doctors for the same medical problem.</p><p><strong>IAD and COVID-19: When should I seek coronavirus testing?</strong></p><p>Knowing the difference between anxiety-related symptoms and the general fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and its symptoms can be difficult, so how do you know when you should seek medical attention? </p><p><a href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses" target="_blank">According to the World Health Organization (WHO)</a>, 1 in 6 people experience serious symptoms of COVID-19. If a person is struggling with minor symptoms (such as a cough or fever), the WHO suggests they self-isolate and monitor their symptoms carefully. If their symptoms progress or become more serious, they should seek medical attention.</p><p>If a person believes they have serious symptoms of COVID-19, they should call their doctor to discuss appropriate next steps and testing for the virus. If you have been cleared from the virus through testing and still seem to be struggling with anxiety caused by the global pandemic, your doctor can offer alternate treatment plans.</p><p>Consult the WHO's coronavirus page on their website <a href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p>
New research conducted on the brains of mice suggest it may be possible to "switch off" particular food cravings.
- A food craving can be described as an intense desire for a specific food. This desire can seem uncontrollable at times.
- Emerging research suggests it may be possible to "switch off" the pleasure feelings we experience from eating certain foods, which could curb cravings.
- This could be groundbreaking in terms of new eating disorder treatments.
Why do we crave certain foods?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NDQ4MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzI4NzQ4OX0.dcwuhfKjmlPb8NVbVNWo_Jmw_o-46ji5p_V2FTqglFs/img.png?width=980" id="06808" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1767ed3939181ef77895f7a92d70f7d4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="illustration of pencil erasing road to meats and fried food" />
Can you "erase" food cravings? New research suggests it's possible..
Photo by Lightspring on Shutterstock<p>A food craving can be described as an intense desire for a specific food, and this desire can seem uncontrollable at times. The person experiencing the craving may be left feeling unsatisfied until they experience that particular food or taste.</p><p>Food cravings are caused by the regions in the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. Hormone imbalances can also cause food cravings to spike. Additionally, your emotions may be involved in producing food cravings, especially if you find yourself eating for comfort reasons. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/emotional-eating" target="_blank">Emotional eating</a> can quickly turn into a very bad habit and generally happens when someone is eating to stifle or soothe negative feelings.</p><p>Food provides satisfaction, so replacing a negative emotion (such as loneliness) with a positive emotion (such as joy from eating a piece of chocolate cake) seems like a good idea. When you experience satisfaction, <a href="http://www.kinesis-cem.com/Insights_Biology.shtml#:~:text=Bottom%20line%2C%20there%20is%20a,satisfaction%20is%20all%20about%20dopamine.&text=Using%20this%20technology%20they%20measured,this%20case%20Kool%2DAid)." target="_blank">your brain is flooded with dopamine,</a> which then adds to the motivation you have to keep doing that thing (eating) that is making you feel good. </p><p>Once this happens a few times, it can become truly <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/emotional-eating#Emotional-hunger-vs.-true-hunger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">difficult to distinguish true physical hunger from emotional hunger</a>. </p><p>Physical hunger slowly develops over time and you will desire a variety of different foods. You will feel the sensation of being full (when you've eaten enough) and take that as a cue to stop eating. </p><p>Emotional hunger, on the other hand, comes on very suddenly and is usually pinpointed to a certain food that makes you feel good while eating is. You may binge on food and not realize the sensation of being full, which tends to lead to feelings of shame and guilt.</p><p>Food cravings can become a major roadblock in maintaining a healthy weight and diet. But what if there was a way to "switch off" the cravings?</p>
Scientists switch off pleasure from food in the brains of mice<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2MzEyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzUwNDM5M30.7iVsAbm1sOuHGC_BtxGKcK6drEJ3xDnTtSSEPjQu6to/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C265%2C0%2C266&height=700" id="44990" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7cb67928ea39866de4f872e3de2836aa" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="amygdala food cravings close up of amygdala region of the brain" />
Research has revealed it's possible to "switch off" food cravings area of the brain in mice.
Image by CLIPAREA l Custom media<p>New research (in mice) has revealed that the brain's underlying desire for sweet (and it's alternative distaste for bitter) can be "erased" by manipulating the neurons in the amygdala.</p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180530133034.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">This 2017 study</a> suggests that the brain's complex taste system (which produces an array of thoughts, memories, and emotions when tasting food) is actually made up of discrete units that can be individually isolated, modified, or even removed. </p><p>For this experiment, scientists focused on the sweet and bitter tastes and the amygdala, the region of the brain known to be key in making value judgments about sensory information. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22884404/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Previous research</a> has shown that the amygdala connects directly to the taste cortex. </p><p>The researchers performed several tests in which the "sweet" or "bitter" connections to the amygdala were artificially switched on, like flicking a series of light switches.</p><p> When the sweet connections were turned on, the mice responded to water just as if it were sugar. By manipulating these connections, the researchers were able to change the perceived quality of the taste. </p><p>In contrast, when these connections were switched off but the taste cortex remained untouched, the mice could still recognize and distinguish sweet from bitter, but now lacked the basic emotional reaction to each taste. </p><p>Dr. Li Wang, Ph.D, a postdoctoral research scientist and the paper's first author, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180530133034.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">explained to Science Daily</a>: "It would be like taking a bite of your favorite chocolate cake but not deriving any enjoyment from doing so. After a few bites, you may stop eating, whereas otherwise you would have scarfed it down."</p><p>This research is quite extraordinary, as typically the identity of food and the pleasure we derive from eating that food are intertwined. This study proves that they are separate components that could be isolated from each other and then manipulated separately. </p><p>This could be groundbreaking research in terms of advancing the treatments of certain eating disorders. </p>
Optimize Your Brain: The Science of Smarter Eating | Dr. Drew Ramsey<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzExOTgzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjQ3ODg2NX0.TwdjbQ_1SN4rfCRm_E6-ndK2XjimNlj_duOoPXH-mzY/img.jpg?width=980" id="d008b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af3fb594ed844f149f5faf65adc0f7be" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
You may be surprised at how your body and brain react to this type of pleasure.
- An orgasm is described as a feeling of intense pleasure that happens during sexual activity.
- By studying the brain activity of people experiencing orgasms, researchers have been able to pinpoint some of the key changes that occur.
- These changes include heightened sensitivity to areas of the brain that control how we feel pain, making us less sensitive to it.
What really happens in the brain during orgasm?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMjAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzk0MTg3N30.XMncIeu8myjL-bgF936p4NYAmXpCbI7dQl1AXuXBZc0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C93%2C0%2C94&height=700" id="aab53" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="309e980e413d58c454f6fed13596917f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="3D rendering of hypothalamus lighting up" />
The hypothalamus, which plays a key role in releasing hormones like dopamine and oxytocin, is one of the regions of the brain that lights up during orgasm.
Image by SciePro on Shutterstock<p><strong>Does the "logical" part of your brain shut down? That's hotly debated.</strong></p><p><strong></strong>There may be a reason why you feel bold and uninhibited during your climax.<br></p><p>"The lateral orbitofrontal cortex becomes less active during sex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for reason, decision making, and value judgments. The deactivation of this part of the brain is also associated with decreases in fear and anxiety," explains clinical psychologist <a href="https://www.betweenusclinic.com/about-us/" target="_blank">Daniel Sher</a>. </p><p>However, not all experts in the field agree with this widely publicized study's findings. Recent (2017) research suggests otherwise, with results that show that these areas of the brain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28986148/" target="_blank">did not deactivate within the 10 female participants of this study</a>.</p><p><strong>Parts of your brain associated with memories, touch, and movement may light up. </strong></p><p>Research has found that the hypothalamus, thalamus, and substantia nigra may light up during orgasm. "Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships" author <a href="http://kaytsukel.com/" target="_blank">Kayt Sukel</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2011/nov/16/orgasm-mri-scanner" target="_blank">was interviewed</a> for her work alongside researchers who studied the effect of an orgasm on the brain while she was in an MRI machine.</p><p>The thalamus helps integrate information about touch, movement, and sexual memories/fantasies. This could explain how you call upon sexual memories and fantasies (or why your imagination is able to be more active) during sexual arousal and peak. </p><p><strong>Oxytocin builds up and is released.</strong></p><p>Oxytocin is defined as a "bonding" hormone. The forming of oxytocin during sex happens in the pituitary glands and it is then released in the hypothalamus. The <a href="https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/hypothalamus" target="_blank">hypothalamus</a> plays a key role in many important functions including the releasing of other hormones (like dopamine), regulation of body temperature, controlling of appetite, and of course, the management of sexual behaviors.</p><p><strong>A surge of dopamine is released. </strong></p><p>During orgasm, your brain works hard to produce various hormones, like the aforementioned oxytocin. In that cocktail of hormones is dopamine, which is released at the moment of orgasm. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and desire and therefore acts as a motivation to keep experiencing those feelings of pleasure and desire. </p><p>Dopamine is formed <a href="https://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_03/d_03_cr/d_03_cr_que/d_03_cr_que.html" target="_blank">in the part of the brain</a> that receives information from several other areas in order to define if your needs (specifically your human needs) are being satisfied. </p><p><strong>The release of endorphins, oxytocin, and vasopressin make you less sensitive to pain during sex. </strong></p><p>For many, pain and sex go hand in hand. Many people enjoy a little bit of pain during sex, and there is actually a very good reason for this: you're less susceptible to pain during sex. The pituitary gland is activated during sex, which then frees your brain up to release all kinds of endorphins that are able to promote pain reduction. </p><p>An interesting thing to note is that some of the same areas of the brain that are active during sex are also active when you experience pain. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4000685/" target="_blank">A very interesting 1985 study</a> looked at the correlation between vaginal stimulation and the elevation of pain. </p><p><strong>In people who are unable to feel genital stimulation, the brain may actually be able to "remap" itself. </strong></p><p>People who have suffered lower-body paralysis can still achieve orgasm through stimulation of other body parts such as the nipples. In this case, the brain actually creates new pathways to pleasure that doesn't involve our genitalia. <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/paralyzed-women-rediscover-orgasms/" target="_blank">This Seattle Times article</a> details paralyzed women who were able to rediscover their ability to orgasm through various other sensations.<br></p><p><strong>Having orgasms can keep your brain healthy. </strong></p><p>Because there is a significant increase in blood flow across multiple areas of the brain so dramatically when we achieve orgasm, it's entirely likely that orgasms may have developed in part to keep our brains healthy.</p>
What really happens in the body when you orgasm?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMjAzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTYyMzA2Nn0.-etGxz-ejxnP2n4CJ4OVoQy5KrrLL2uTxet7i-nBFZk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="4b6fe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="648070a56f9fea934d8780dba38bfb1f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="woman holding blanket in her hand" />
What really happens in the body when we orgasm?
Photo by NATNN on Shutterstock<p><strong>Your body swells and becomes more sensitive.</strong></p><p>While men experience the obvious swelling in the genitals due to increased blood flow, women can experience some forms of swelling during sex as well. From your breasts to your vulva, many women experience swelling during sexual arousal and release. </p><p><strong>Your heart rate quickens, which leads to euphoria. </strong></p><p>Of course, your heart rate elevates when you're experiencing orgasm, but along with that, you also experience a blood pressure rise and your breathing rate also increases. Both of these things are considered mild aerobic activity responses and could factor into the kind of euphoria you feel during sexual experiences - similar to a "runners high."</p><p><strong>Muscles in the vagina, anus, and uterus contract and release - like a workout.</strong></p><p>Not only is your pulse racing, but you may also be working out some of the muscles in your body (aside from the ones you're using to physically have sex). </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.bustle.com/p/9-things-that-happen-to-your-body-when-you-have-orgasm-that-you-never-realized-8487239" target="_blank">Bustle</a>, "Increased blood flow to the genitals during orgasm also maintains the integrity of the smooth muscle that lines the vagina, rectum and connective tissue between the penile shaft and scrotum."</p><p><strong>Orgasms may improve allergy symptoms or clear blocked nasal passages.</strong></p><p>"Orgasms can be effective at opening blocked nasal passages and can alleviate some allergy and congestion symptoms," according to sexologist and clinical professional counselor Dr. Laura Deitsch.</p>