[monkeywire] Study: Male monkeys approach sex head first
annaebarr at hotmail.com
Thu Jan 29 17:00:19 EST 2004
Study: Male monkeys approach sex head first
Thursday, January 29, 2004 Posted: 2:17 PM EST (1917 GMT)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Some people may joke that men don't think with their
heads when it comes to sex, but a study in monkeys suggests the brain plays
a significant role in the decision to mate, researchers reported.
Brain scans of tiny marmoset monkeys show a lot of thought goes into
choosing mates, the team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said.
They used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to look at the
brain functions of the Brazilian monkeys. Writing in the Journal of Magnetic
Resonance Imaging, they said the brains became busy when the monkeys smelled
"We were surprised to observe high levels of neural activity in areas of the
brain important for decision-making, as well as in purely sexual arousal
areas, in response to olfactory cues," psychology professor Charles Snowdon
said in a statement.
"Lighting up far more brightly than we expected were areas associated with
decision-making and memory, emotional processing and reward, and cognitive
Like people, common marmosets live in family groups and do not mate freely
with one another. They must make careful choices.
Snowdon's team studied four male marmosets, offering them gland secretion
samples from females at or close to ovulation. They also let the monkeys
smell samples from females whose ovaries had been removed, and who therefore
were not fertile and, presumably, not sexy.
The researchers were surprised to see how much more of the animals' brain
lit up when they smelled the samples from fertile females -- including areas
of complex, cognitive reasoning.
"This is the first time anyone has imaged an awake nonhuman primate in
response to emotionally arousing stimuli. It is also the first link between
external sexual odors and the internal sexual arousal system," Snowdon said.
"This opens up a whole new field of research possibilities."
He said the marmoset data corresponded surprisingly closely to human fMRI
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