By Lindsay Mack
Chances are, you have a pretty good idea about what goes on in your body when you have a solo love session. (And if not: feel free to experiment until you find out.) But what about upstairs? What happens to your brain when you masturbate? Turns out pleasure can be pretty cerebral, too.
Although it may seem like your body gets all the action, your brain definitely plays a big role in the process as well. In fact, recent studies have focused on the brain's response to pleasure in a surprising way.
For instance, to really get into her research, New Scientist writer Kayt Sukel got into an fMRI scanner and masturbated to the point of orgasm. (Talk about donating your body to science.)
According to this article, over 30 brain areas become active throughout the masturbation process, and there even appears to be activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during female climax, an area of the brain that may be related to aspects of consciousness. In fact, the PFC could even be involved in the erotic responses caused by nothing more than your imagination.
And the other areas of your brain are not left in the dark, either. According to Women's Health, the buildup to orgasm may activate your amygdala, which appears to involve your emotional expression and feelings. So you can give yourself a feel-good boost even when you're flying solo.
As further noted by Women's Health, you can even experience oxytocin (AKA the love hormone) thanks to your hypothalamus. It's basically your brain's way of making you feel great for trying to procreate, even if you're the only person in the room.
Lastly, if it feels like you've become addicted to your self love sessions, then that may be exactly what's going on. As behavioral neuroscientist Barry Komisaruk, Ph.D, explained in Buzzfeed, sex can activate the nucleus accumbens, or your brain's reward center, with a release of dopamine. As further explained by Komisaruk, this is the same part of your brain that responds to addictive stimuli such as nicotine or caffeine.
However, unlike other substances, there is virtually no downside to becoming addicted to masturbation. It's the pleasure-reward loop that just keeps on giving.
This article was originally published at Romper. Reprinted with permission from the author.