Ever lost yourself in a song so awesome that you’ve found yourself thinking it’s almost like sex?
Turns out there may be some truth to that.
In new research published in the scientific journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology, Northwestern University neuroscientist Adam Safron suggests that the rhythmic nature of sex puts humans in a trance-like state involving complete sensory absorption and loss of self-awareness.
Safron says the rhythmic nature of sex can cause neurons in the brain to oscillate at the same frequency in a process known as “neural entrainment.” If the stimulation goes on long enough and is intense enough, synchronized activity can make its way through the brain.
This synchronization can result in a state of concentration that shuts out regular self-awareness and enables sexual partners to effectively lose themselves in the moment. During this sexual trance, partners can access a state of sensory absorption that builds in intensity to the point of climax.
Safron added that from a neuroscientific perspective, sex can be considered an altered state of consciousness and maybe even a kind of meditation.
“This way of viewing sexual experience is very different from, but consistent with, conceptualizing sex solely in terms of desire, pleasure, and arousal,” Safron told The Huffington Post. “I suspect that viewing sexuality as a kind of altered state of consciousness could help people to see sex as something extraordinary, potentially helping them to have a greater appreciation for their partners, and possibly even helping to prevent sex from losing its fascination.”
Safron’s theory is in line with the scientific world’s understanding of orgasms, which typically result from rhythmic stimulation of body parts with high concentrations of sensory receptors. Some studies have even indicated that parts of the brain involved in higher-order cognition and executive function shut off during sexual climax, resulting in a momentary “loss of control.”
It’s in this way that sex can be compared to music or dance, which can inspire feelings of losing oneself a rhythm or achieving an altered state of consciousness.
“The ability to maintain and adjust rhythms precisely, and with variety, helps to make someone both a good dancer and a good lover,” Safron said. “Focusing on the rhythmic aspects of sexuality could both help people to enjoy sex more and to be more of the kinds of lovers that they want to be.”