Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cranial Nerve Zero: Sex and the Secret Nerve

Now this is entirely news to me! Despite 6 years of undergraduate med school study, and two postgraduate degrees- including one in which i spent quite a bit of time learning about neurology- i have NEVER heard about Cranial Nerve Zero. I wish i was in a band because that's what i'd call it.
It apparently usually gets ripped off when the brain is removed from the skull so anatomists often miss it- but it has been described intermittently over the last few hundred years! There's a fascinating article about it in the latest Scientific American Mind magazine- particularly interesting is its postulated role in sensing pheremones.

Actually the rest of the magazine is really really good and includes fun stuff like: differences between Bonobos and Chimps, The Psychopathology of Paedophilia, The Science of Orgasm (using what i like to call the Heavy-PET Scan Studies), Arrested Development in Rapist Orangutans, Genetics of Homosexuality etc etc. I wonder if paedophilia drove the evolution of human neoteny?

Would have been even better to include general stuff on the theories of the evolution of sexual reproduction, and the theory that the brain/mind evolved as a 'conspicuous display' on the basis of sexual selection. I'm assuming these theories are dreamed up late at night by Geek Biologists- to reassure themselves that Geekiness= Chiciness= Sexiness.

If true though- everything really IS about sex- and not just the 90% of our salacious western culture that is so OBVIOUSLY about sex. Great art, poetry, literature, greed, war- it may all just ultimately be about getting laid.

What would the world be like if there was no need for lust? If humans reproduced parthenogenetically like certain species of lizards? What if you could just 'pinch off' a new little you? What would motivate you to get up in the morning?

To find out- you'd need to inteview thousands of really extraordinarily good-looking guys for whom getting laid is no problem to find out what life is like. Personally i've always had to struggle against the demotivating effects of my extreme physical attractiveness.

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