Neuroscience of an Orgasm: The Effect of Pleasure on the Brain

Neuroscience of an Orgasm: The Effect of Pleasure on the Brain

Orgasm Definition: The Science, Spirituality and Culture Behind Pleasure

We invited Dr. Barry Komisaruk onto the show to find out what happens in the brain when we orgasm, and we found out so much more. It turns out that when we orgasm, every part of our brain is activated. So why do we have orgasms anyways? Why does pleasure matter? In this episode we discuss:

  • The mystery of how neurons produce pleasure
  • Orgasm in women with spinal cord or brain injuries
  • How body responds similarly with nipple, vaginal, clitoral or uterine stimulation
  • Sex is good for us: How pleasure reinforces us to repeat actions
  • Spiritual connection to sex and orgasm
  • Healing our cultural taboos around sex

Pleasure is often times overlooked as one of the foundations of health. Listen in to learn about the scientific functions of orgasm and why pleasure matters for brain health.

Guest Bio:

Barry R. Komisaruk received a B.S. in biology at The City University of New York and Ph.D. in psychobiology from Rutgers University. He was a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow in neuroendocrinology at the Brain Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles. Joining the Rutgers-Newark faculty in 1966, Komisaruk was a professor in the Institute of Animal Behavior and Department of Zoology. He is now Distinguished Professor in the Psychology Department, director of the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, and former associate dean of the Graduate School. With a penchant for finding new research avenues to explore, Komisaruk received a Board of Trustees of Rutgers University Excellence in Research award and the Hugo G. Beigel Research Award of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. His major research interests include: functional neuroimaging of genital sensory response; neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and neuroendocrinology of reproductive behavior; and neural control of autonomic genital function. He is senior author of The Science of Orgasm, a comprehensive look at the biology and neuroscience of orgasm, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, as well as The Orgasm Answer Guide, a general readership book from the same publisher. He has published more than 155 academic journal articles and chapters.

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  • Jennifer M. Harrison
    With all due respect, I had to leave the conversation because of the doctor's very limited and narrow-minded view on pornography. Porn is what is ruining marriages. There is no long term benefits to someone watching pornography--the brain requires such an unrealistic trigger to get excited sexually. This is dangerous to even suggest that there are benefits to pornography.
  • Kim
    Pornography can become an addiction - it is pursued quite commonly with individuals with anxiety and depressive do. Encouraging pornography can set a poor example for your children, destroy your marriage, and can encourage you to act out your fantasies-involving yourself with prostitution puts yourself at risk but also makes you part of the problem with human trafficking.
  • Rob
    These comments are ridiculous for Christ sakes the discussion is about Orgasm. Right there we know it will require an open mind to stay focused. The conversation of porn consisted of three minutes, was determined to possibly be neither good nor bad by both of them then dropped and never revisited again the entire discussion. Listen to the rest because you missed a very interesting conversation with great questions and extremely intelligent answers to the best of the doctors ability. Curiosity, rather than fear, next time, would be a better reason to want to listen to this.
  • Joseph
    Rob, I agree wholeheartedly. Open-minded people don’t care to be right, they care to understand. There’s never a right or wrong answer. Everything is about understanding. If anything, they have not learned this. Many people open their mouths before their minds when it comes to different ideas. They are afraid their brains are going to fall out. This was a very insightful and perspicacious podcast. As Walt Whitman put it, “Be curious, not judgmental.”
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