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What is orgasm? A model of sexual trance and climax via rhythmic entrainment.

Safron A. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. 2016.

Abstract

Orgasm is one of the most intense pleasures attainable to an organism, yet its underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. On the basis of existing literatures, this article introduces a novel mechanistic model of sexual stimulation and orgasm. In doing so, it characterizes the neurophenomenology of sexual trance and climax, describes parallels in dynamics between orgasms and seizures, speculates on possible evolutionary origins of sex differences in orgasmic responding, and proposes avenues for future experimentation. Here, a model is introduced wherein sexual stimulation induces entrainment of coupling mechanical and neuronal oscillatory systems, thus creating synchronized functional networks within which multiple positive feedback processes intersect synergistically to contribute to sexual experience. These processes generate states of deepening sensory absorption and trance, potentially culminating in climax if critical thresholds are surpassed. The centrality of rhythmic stimulation (and its modulation by salience) for surpassing these thresholds suggests ways in which differential orgasmic responding between individuals-or with different partners-may serve as a mechanism for ensuring adaptive mate choice. Because the production of rhythmic stimulation combines honest indicators of fitness with cues relating to potential for investment, differential orgasmic response may serve to influence the probability of continued sexual encounters with specific mates.

PMID

27799079 []

PMCID

PMC5087698

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