2012 at 5am Posted by Rebecca Joines Schinsky
Published January 3, 2012 by Free Press
You’ve probably heard someone talk about how the brain is the largest sexual organ in the body, and you’ve probably groaned in response (unless of course the person saying it was Dr. Ruth, who is, by the way, awesome on Twitter). Take a roll in the hay with Kayt Sukel’s Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships, and you’ll be singing a different tune.
Acknowledging that “more and more, neuroscientists are demonstrating that the brain is behavior–the two simply cannot be teased apart,” Sukel sets out to synthesize the available information about how our brains influence our hearts and what that can mean for human behavior. She examines love as a social bond that supports survival, analyzes the chemistry of love and sex, and pulls back the curtain on the biology that can make love so addictive, stressful, and amazing. Dirty Minds isn’t so much about the question of nature vs. nurture as it is about the interaction of the two. Sukel understands that we are more than slaves to our genes, and she takes society’s influence into consideration when she presents scientific findings about gender differences, monogamy and infidelity, sexual orientation, and whether “mommy brain” is a real phenomenon. If that doesn’t sound awesome enough for you, she also writes about the time she masturbated in an fMRI machine so she could participate in one of the studies she writes about.
Remarkable for the breadth of ground it covers in exploring this still-relatively-new area of study, Dirty Minds is a terrific introduction to the hard sciences’ approach to sex research. Readers need not have any pre-existing knowledge of the subject, only an appetite for information and an openness to questioning convention. Highly recommended.
For extra credit: read alongside Sex at Dawn for a look at the other side of many of the same studies and an argument firmly in the “nurture” camp.