It is just the sort of news you've been waiting for: new research has
shown that engaging in sex can improve mental performance and increase
the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain
where Sex Can Make You Smarter (Photo by Jacob Appelbaum/Creative Commons via Wikimediai)long-term memory is formed. This is the sort of scientific news
that even people who don't care about science can get behind.
Researchers at the University of Maryland found that the middle-aged mice and rats they were studying showed improved cognition and hippocampus activity after having sex. Researchers in South Korea have also made the same findings.
In their experiment they found that sexual activity could be helpful in protecting this particular area of the brain from the effects of chronic stress.
The big question then becomes "does this work in reverse?" Do smart people have more sex than average people? Unfortunately, the answer to that one is no. In fact, smarter teenagers begin engaging in sex at a later age than others according to a 2012 study by the University of Pennsylvania.
Now for the downside (at least for some of us). While sex can increase the number of new brain cells being created it does not ensure their survival. For that you need to also engage in effortless, successful learning to help keep them exercised and viable. This is according to leading psychologist Tracey J. Shors from the Centre for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Sex Can Make You Smarter (Photo by KoS/Creative Commons via Wikimediai)"You can make new cells with exercise, Prozac and sex," she said. "If you do mental training, you'll keep alive more cells that you produced. And if you do both, now you have the best of both worlds - you're making more cells and keeping more alive."
While it does appear that sex can create new brain cells, the jury is still out on whether or not "fake sex" such as pornography might actually be damaging to the brain. On this subject researchers from the University of Texas have made the argument that excessively viewing porn, like so many other addictions, can cause permanent negative changes to the brain. This statement was quickly challenged by researchers at UCLA, citing that the Texans offered little evidence to back up their claim.
While there does not seem to be any proof of actual damage from porn viewing, it has been found that even short viewing of pornographic immages does seem to interfere with people's working memory.
So get out there and nail your significant other and build some extra brain cells. Just be prepared to lose them all while watching the Super Bowl. Well, that is unless you do some brain exercises during halftime.
Sources; The Atlantic, The Telegraph