The Neuroscience Behind Sexual Desire: Bring Your Questions for Authors of A Billion Wicked Thoughts

The first researcher to systematically investigate human sexual desire was the Indiana University sociologist Alfred Kinsey, more than 60 years ago. Kinsey spent years surveying people’s sexual habits, interviewing thousands of middle-class Americans in the 1940s and ’50s. But what if all that information had been publicly available? What if you could access the secret sexual behaviors of more than 100 million men and women from around the world?

Today, thanks to the internet, you can.

In what is claimed to be the largest experiment ever, two neuroscience PhDs from Boston University, Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, analyzed a billion web searches, a million web sites, a million erotic videos, millions of personal ads, thousands of digital romance novels, and combined it all with cutting-edge neuroscience. The result is the most complete study of the human brain and sexuality ever, which they’ve compiled into a new book called A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire. Among other things, their research reveals profound differences between the sexual brains of men and women, even though they are both hardwired to respond to the same sexual cues. For instance: male brains form sexual interests during adolescence and rarely change, while female brains change frequently throughout their lives. For men, physical and psychological arousal are united, while they’re completely separate for women.

Ogas and Gaddam have agreed to answer your questions about their research, so fire away in the comments section. As with all our Q&A’s, we’ll post their answers in short course. In fact, you can read them right here.

TAGS: , ,

COMMENTS: 77

View All Comments »
  1. fred quimby says:

    What was the negative multiplier you had to use to get an accurate time, when you asked men: how long they “last” for when having sex?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3
    • Pewlpit says:

      Why does everything have to be so negative these days? Why can’t they have just told the truth? I mean I know I’m not the only intern who has marathon sessions with supermodels, only stopping on occasion to prevent the very serious risk of dehydration.

      But just to help spread your concerns, we’ve shared your question from the pewlpit in hopes of finding the truth.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  2. rubayeet says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Disliked! Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 21
    • Nicolas says:

      Common knowledge isn’t scientific knowledge.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 6
      • Fred Davis says:

        …And the plural of “google search result” isn’t “scientific data”.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 64 Thumb down 2
  3. Ryan says:

    When people are sad or depressed, I imagine that impacts their sexual behavior. For instance, the current recession. Did that reduce sexual behavior amongst those most impacted? How did it impact men vs. women? How does the amount of time someone is able to return to normal sexual behavior differ between men and women?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 10
    • jonquil says:

      Hey, fellow angry feminists. Let’s not downrate reasonable questions based on the book, just because we don’t like the book. Book-related questions based on premises that we dislike aren’t spam.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 10
  4. Linka says:

    How do you say things like “the largest experiment ever” with a straight face when all you did was “analyze” millions of pieces of media on whatever shallow, facile level you were able to analyze them?

    How can you manage to show your face on the internet after your last “experiment”?

    Has your methodology improved from your last “experiment”, where you gathered no data about neuroscience at all but took your preconceived notions of how men and women were wired sexually, made assumptions about what was happening in their brains when they engaged with certain materials, and called the results “science”? It doesn’t seem like it, since it’s not like you have any brain scans to go with the media you “analyzed”.

    What exactly did you do besides look at a lot of internet porn that other people had looked at and then figure out how to stretch it to fit your preconceived models?

    What institution or institutions are you falsely claiming affiliation with this time?

    How do you manage to call yourself a scientist without the very laws of causality coming to life as an indignant anthropomorphic force and kicking you squarely in the nuts?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 269 Thumb down 15
  5. Adam Lipkin says:

    I’d like to know how you respond to N. Pepperell’s and Alison Macleod’s critiques of your methodology, as none of the articles or interviews I’ve read so far have addressed what seem to be some very legitimate points.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 192 Thumb down 11
  6. don juan says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Disliked! Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 62
    • mac says:

      on foot/via wheelchair, by bicycle, on rollerskates/skateboard, etc., depending on the situation.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0
  7. Eric M. Jones says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Disliked! Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 54
  8. maurizio de franciscis says:

    Sexy piece of knowledge to go after guys! …no pun intended. The problem with very large studies is generally that you cannot control for external factors. How did you structure yours? Did you assume that at that scale special factors will cancel out?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 12