UNITED STATES. Scientists have discovered a link between aggressive behaviour and sexual arousal. Sex and violence are controlled by two overlapping brain circuits that appear to act as a “mental switch” designed to make the two behaviours mutually exclusive, researchers found.
However, the intermingling of the two sets of neurons creates a delicate balance in which too many or too few connections between neighbouring brain cells could blur the boundaries.
The findings could explain why the relationship between sex and violence is one of the most enduring themes in art and literature, most graphicakky [portrayed] in the film A Clockwork Orange.
“The very mecananism that helps to decide quickly between these two behavious in social situations could lead to pathologies where the two behaviours are not kept separate from each other,” said Professor David Anderson, a neurobiologist at the California Institute of Technology who led the research.
The study, carried out in mice, was the first to map directly the individual neurons that fire during instinctive aggression and mating. Both behaviours are triggered by neurons in he hypothalmus, which governs appetite, self-defence, aggression and sexual arousal.
A knowledge of the two brain ciruits could lead to better treatments for violent sex offenders, Anderson said.
Dominion Post 11 Feb, 2011
Source: The Times