Scientists from Rice University used fMRI scans to take a look at women's brains while they processed four different smells. The first was sweat from aroused men. The second was sweat from the same men when not aroused. The third was a control with PSP, a sex hormone which heightens arousal in women, matched to previously found levels in aroused sweat. The last was a negative control with a neutral compound that is in sweat, PEA. They wanted to know if PSP was the major sexual olfactory cue in sweat or if there was more being produced by the horny boys.
Is he hot or horny?
Is he hot or horny?
A woman's brain knows.
To make the study truly neutral, the women weren't informed as to what they were smelling. And, interestingly, few described the smells as human or sweaty. Some even described them as 'floral'. None of the women figured out they were smelling the sweat of aroused versus non-aroused men.
Well, I guess I should say none of the women consciously figured that out. However, their brains told a different story.
The fMRI scans showed that the women's right orbitofrontal cortex and the right fusiform regions significantly responded to the sexual sweat compared with the PEA baseline, the neutral sweat or PSP. Also, the PSP (the hormone they thought might be the signal) did not produce the same stimulus. Thus something else in the sweat of aroused guys turned on a specific response in the women's brains.
In other words, women's brains know the difference between a guy that's hot and bothered and one that isn't, even if they don't know it consciously. It makes me wonder if they'll soon be producing colognes that are designed to get a woman turned on - neurally, that is (none of this supposed pheromone crap). I mean, that's gotta be way better than a pick up line...
Since I went there, here's one for you to take home - it's my personal favorite:
"You know, the good thing about being a scientist is that I'm very good at mixing fluids."
W. Zhou, D. Chen (2008). Encoding Human Sexual Chemosensory Cues in the Orbitofrontal and Fusiform Cortices Journal of Neuroscience, 28 (53), 14416-14421 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3148-08.2008