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9 posts categorized "Science"

21 December 2011

It happened to me: I donated an orgasm to science ( - 28 November 2011)


XojaneWhat happens when you donate an orgasm to science and it goes viral on the web?  Well, let me tell you.


After donating one of my orgasms to neuroscience, I watched a scan of my brain at the moment of ecstasy go viral on the Internet. And as a result, I find myself being simultaneously accused of being a sinner, an exhibitionist, a pervert and a tease.

It all started as a purely research endeavor.  As part of my background research into the neurobiology of sex for my book, "Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships,"  I interviewed Barry Komisaruk, a lovely and brilliant professor at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. While many researchers avoid sex and love experiments like the plague due to lack of funding and scientific prestige, Komisaruk and his lab have been studying what happens in the brain during orgasm for decades. He's a true pioneer...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Reactive temperament in infancy linked to amygdala activity later in life (The Dana Foundation Website - 18 November 2011)

Dana_logoJerome Kagan's lab at Harvard University is finding that early temperament is linked to later activation differences in the amygdala.


My great-grandmother once told me that babies keep only one trait throughout the course of their lifetime—their temperament. It would seem her folk wisdom was not far off the mark. A study  published in the Sept. 6 issue of Molecular Psychiatry, demonstrates that a male infant’s reaction to unexpected stimuli, a biological measure of temperament, can predict amygdala activity later in adulthood...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Brain Receptors - A Primer (The Dana Foundation Website - 4 November 2011)

Dana_logoNeural receptors play an important role in several neuropsychiatric disorders.  Here is a basic primer on how they work.


Synaptic transmission begins when one brain cell releases a neurochemical into the synapse. The transmission, however, is not complete until that neurochemical binds with a receptor on the postsynaptic, or receiving, neuron. Researchers have learned that receptors are equally as important as the neurochemicals they receive in maintaining healthy neurobiology. In fact, studies have demonstrated that receptors play a critical role in mood, learning, and the formation of social bonds. Many receptors are current targets for drug development for treatment of psychiatric disorders...

(To read the rest of the primer, click here).

Your brain and online dating (Happen Magazine - October 2011)

Hdr_logoWhat did I learn as I researched DIRTY MINDS that may help in the dating world?  I spilled some of the details to Happen,'s magazine.


Kayt Sukel is the author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships (Free Press, 2012). Here are a few things she learned about the neurobiology of attraction as she researched and wrote her book — and how they might apply to your online dating life.

Read through a dozen online dating profiles and I guarantee that you'll come across words like "chemistry," "spark," and "connection." There's good reason for this: as I researched the neurobiology of attraction for Dirty Minds, I quickly learned that chemistry is far more than just a dating profile cliché. Chemistry is real — and it's important. It just may not be exactly what you think it is...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).


New Army risk and resilience project searches for signs of potential suicide (The Dana Foundation Website - 8 September 2011)

Dana_logoAn ambitious new research project led by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health hopes to find predictors of suicide for members of the military--and beyond.


In the late 1940s, the National Heart Institute (now called the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) launched the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal research project to investigate the biological precursors of cardiovascular disease. This study, still going strong, has informed much of what we know about the underlying risks of heart disease and stroke, as well as what we can do to best prevent and treat it. Now the U.S. Army, partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is embarking on the Army Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS), an ambitious series of research studies they hope will one day be considered the Framingham Heart Study of suicide and mental health. Its goal: To find reliable biomarkers for compromised mental health...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Is the neuroscientific study of pain lagging? (The Dana Foundation Website - 30 August 2011)


A remark at the One Mind for Research summit inspires the question, "Is the neuroscientific study of pain lagging?"


Earlier this year, scientists, politicians and other healthcare advocates came together to share their hopes for the next decade of neuroscience research at the One Mind for Research (OMR) Summit in Boston. At a session highlighting the neurobiological consequences of war, Clifford J. Woolf, a pain researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston, stated, “We have made enormous progress in promoting survival…but, in fact, an area that has really lagged behind relates to the pain associated with combat injury.”

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

21 August 2011

Hearts and Minds (Houston Chronicle City Brights Blog)

Chron I am now contributing a new weekly blog to the  Houston Chronicle City Brights collection:  Hearts and Minds

In it, I discuss new findings in life, love and science.  With the occasional personal story thrown in. 

Biomarkers--A primer (The Dana Foundation Website - 2011)

Dana_logo Biological markers, or biomarkers, are changing the field of science and medicine by providing novel ways to predict, diagnoses and treat different diseases and disorders.


Biological markers, or biomarkers, are substances that indicate a particular biological state. Today, neuroscientific researchers are using a vast array of biomarkers, ranging from neuroimaging results to genetic variations to levels of cell proteins, to help predict, diagnose, and treat a variety of brain-related disease states and neuropsychiatric disorders...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Cataloguing environmental toxins (Proto - Winter 2011)

Proto The CDC tracks hundreds of environmental toxins in a random sample of Americans.  But what can that data really tell us?


None of us can escape the myriad chemicals in the air, the water, our food and our homes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention periodically measures the so-called body burden of a sample of Americans; its most recent assessment occurred in December 2009. Though we still know little about whether the chemicals measured make us sick, the data are nonetheless vital so epidemiologists can spend years, even decades, studying the effects. The CDC tracks more than 200 substances. Here are some better-known ones...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).