What Do Evolution, Female Orgasms, Rhythmic Entrainment, and Barry White Have In Common?

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"What is Orgasm? A Model of Sexual Trance and Climax Via Rhythmic Entrainment"

Such a great title, thanks to Adam Safron, Ph.D., of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. If you have no idea what this means, you are not alone. But it was too intriguing to pass up, so I went way out of my comfort zone and tried to figure out what it meant. It's actually rather interesting.

Safron's recent paper bearing the aforementioned title, discussed the possibility of an evolutionary connection between female orgasm and ovulation and reproduction. This idea is nothing new, but Safron takes it a step further, hence the title: the possible connection of sexual bliss and rhythmic music and dance. 

Now we're talking.

Some of what Safron says is intuitively obvious— dancing, a long practiced sexual ritual all over the world, may actually play a part in reproduction because "the neurophenomenology of sexual trance and climax, describes parallels in dynamics between orgasms and seizures."

Assuming that your head hasn't exploded, hang in there. It's pretty interesting.

Safron writes "Orgasm is one of the most intense pleasures attainable to an organism, yet its underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood." After researching numerous studies on sexual stimulation, he proposed a new model, which connects sexual stimulation with rhythmic music and dance, seizures, and orgasms. Some of Safron's reasoning includes:

  • Dance has been an integral part of mating rituals for hundreds of millions of years.
  • Like dance, orgasms usually involve a rhythmic motion.
  • Orgasmic response is tied to ovulations, and thus fertility in females.
  • The ability of females to keep rhythm could be an evolutionary test of fitness of individual females for the male because "differential orgasmic response may serve to influence the probability of continued sexual encounters with specific mates."

In other words, dancing in females is an indirect predictor of the strength and pleasure of their orgasms, which is then instinctively seen by males as a measure of the chances that the chosen female has a greater chance of ovulating, becoming pregnant, and passing the male's genes along. 

To put this in a more modern perspective, dancing and sex are intertwined in the brain. Which explains the enormous success of this guy:

The incomparable Barry White (1944-2003)     Photo: Feelgraphx.com

If you were a guy in the 1970s looking to secure the affection of a particular young lady, a Barry White album guaranteed that you'd close the deal (1). 



(1) OK, not completely guaranteed.