Scientists have created the world's first movie of the female brain as it approaches, experiences and recovers from an orgasm.
Brain scans were used to make an animation that reveals "the steady buildup of activity in the brain as disparate regions flicker into life and then come together in a crescendo of activity before gently settling back down again," reported the Guardian.
The study required Nan Wise, a 54-year-old PhD student, to lie in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner and stimulate herself.
"It's my dissertation," Wise told the Guardian. "I'm committed to it."
The five-minute movie uses a "hot metal" colour scale that starts with dark red and moves through orange and yellow to white at the highest levels of activity.
The animation shows activity first building up in the genital area of the sensory cortex. It then spreads to the limbic system, a collection of brain structures involved in emotions and long-term memory.
As the orgasm arrives, activity shoots up in two parts of the brain called the cerebellum and the frontal cortex. During orgasm, activity reaches a peak in the hypothalamus. Activity also peaks in the nucleus accumbens - an area linked to reward and pleasure.
Afterwards, activity in all of these regions gradually calms down.
Professor Barry Komisaruk and his team hope the research will explain what goes wrong in both men and women who cannot reach sexual climax.