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Brain Imaging Captures Female Orgasm in Action

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Rutgers researchers have peeked inside the brain during one of the body’s most private sensations -- orgasm.

Psychology professor Barry Komisaruk and colleagues captured the crescendo of brain activity in a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging snapshots taken over seven minutes.  They then transformed the images into a colorful animation -- the brighter the color, the more activated the brain is.

“We’re looking at the sequence of brain regions that get recruited at increasing intensity leading up to orgasm,” said Komisaruk.  “It’s such a compelling behavioral and sensory phenomenon with so many implications and so little understanding.”

The brain belongs to Nan Wise, a 54-year-old sex therapist turned Rutgers PhD student.

“When I first started grad school in the ’80s, we didn’t have these methods,” said Wise, who went back to school four years ago.  “Now we can study how the brain is recruiting these regions to create the big bang of orgasm.”

When Wise reaches orgasm, almost every area of her brain is activated.

“Secondary to an epileptic seizure, there’s no bigger brain networking event,” said Wise.  “It’s a fantastic opportunity to examine the connectivity of the brain.”

By understanding the events in the brain that lead to orgasm, Wise and Komisaruk hope to find clues about what might be going wrong in the 25 percent of women who rarely or never have one.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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