Orgasm may be right-brain activity


By Amy Norton

NEW YORK, Jan 29 - The unusual case of one woman with epilepsy has led researchers to conclude that the right side of the brain is probably home to the orgasm command center.

After a 31-year-old Hungarian epilepsy patient told her doctors that she experienced orgasm-like feelings just before she had a seizure, they decided to look into the phenomenon further. The doctors were able to uncover 22 cases of this so-called "orgasmic aura" preceding epileptic seizure reported in the medical literature since 1945.

Nine of these patients had sufficient brain-activity records for the researchers to zero in on the orgasmic brain spot. And it appears to be somewhere in the right, or typically "non-dominant," side of the brain--possibly in a region called the amygdala, which is involved in emotional response.

Dr. Jozsef Janszky and colleagues at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Budapest report their findings in the January issue of Neurology.

Janszky told Reuters Health that he decided to look into the prevalence of orgasmic aura in epilepsy because until his patient reported it, he had never heard of such a case.

"It is not a routine question in everyday epileptology practice," he noted.

In fact, Janszky said, his patient had kept the orgasmic experiences to herself for 10 years before telling her doctors.

The researchers believe the brain area behind orgasmic aura also underlies sexual orgasm. If so, Janszky said, further study into the chemical features of the structures involved could lead to a greater understanding of how orgasm arises.

"As orgasm is one of the most important things in human life," he added. "I think (studying) its central mechanisms is interesting."

SOURCE: Neurology 2002;58:302-304.

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