The fact that men are hardwired to want sex is hardly surprising, but that their libido is naturally so strong that they’ll prioritize satisfying it even over eating (you know, a kind of basic function for survival)? Well, that’s pretty insane—but that’s exactly what a new study published in Nature found. (Although, science also shows guys are more likely to do dumb things that could get them killed, so there’s that.)
British and American researchers used classic behavioral conditioning (remember Pavlov’s salivating dogs from Psych class?) to prove that when male worms were starved in the presence of females, they actually sought out sex over food. (P.S. Read up about The Male Brain On: Jealousy.)
It all lies in a pair of neurons men have that women don’t, called mystery cells of the male (yep, really!) or MCMs. Both sexes have comparable brain circuits, but MCMs change the path of instincts in males. “These changes during sexual maturation allow males to remember previous sexual encounters and prioritize sex in future situations,” said study author Arantza Barrios, Ph.D. So no, it’s not in your head—puberty really does wire men to be different.
While the study was conducted in worms, it “nevertheless gives us a perspective that helps us appreciate and possibly understand the variety of human sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identification,” according to co-author Scott Emmons, Ph.D. The scientists believe that it’s possible the human male brain may also have types of neurons that the female brain doesn’t—and vice versa—changing how men and women perceive the world and what they prioritize.
So…maybe the secret to a man’s heart isn’t through his stomach after all?