The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'testosterone'
An Australian company is trialling a testosterone spray to boost the female sex drive. The spray, designed for post-menopausal women, also works on young women wanting to get their bootywhang on; the only side-effect so far is abnormal hair growth.
Of course, the street finds its own uses for things. Viagra and its competitors have transitioned from prescription-only anti-impotence solution to nightclub party drug (in some places, drug dealers mix them with speed or the cocktail of dubious shit that goes into "ecstasy" tablets and call it "sex-tasy"), and young men with no medical problems can buy them online for recreational uses from dodgy pharmacies (sometimes with tragicomic effects, such as the teenaged schoolboys who thought it'd be cool to take Viagra before going to school one day, not thinking through the mortifying social consequences of spending a day in school with a conspicuous erection). And there's no reason why the same won't happen for the testosterone spray. One imagines rampaging hordes of young women huffing the stuff like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet and ravaging their way across the urban landscape like amazon Viking berzerkers, aggressively hitting on everyone in their path, their mustaches shining in the full moon, and occasionally getting into testosterone-fuelled "he's mine! no, mine!" fistfights.
Scientists are discovering the neurological bases of social phenomena such as romantic love, trust, self-awareness and deception.
"We believe romantic love is a developed form of one of three primary brain networks that evolved to direct mammalian reproduction," says researcher Helen Fisher, PhD, of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. "The sex drive evolved to motivate individuals to seek sex with any appropriate partner. Attraction, the mammalian precursor of romantic love, evolved to enable individuals to pursue preferred mating partners, thereby conserving courtship time and energy. The brain circuitry for male-female attachment evolved to enable individuals to remain with a mate long enough to complete species-specific parenting duties."
In the new research, Zak and his colleagues find that when someone observes that another person trusts them, oxytocin - a hormone that circulates in the brain and the body - rises. The stronger the signal of trust, the more oxytocin increases. In addition, the more oxytocin increases, the more trustworthy (reciprocating trust) people are.
"Interestingly, participants in this experiment were unable to articulate why they behaved they way they did, but nonetheless their brains guided them to behave in `socially desirable ways,' that is, to be trustworthy," says Zak. "This tells us that human beings are exquisitely attuned to interpreting and responding to social signals.
(Or, perhaps, that what we know as the conscious mind doesn't so much make decisions or control our behaviour as rationalise it; could it be that the conscious mind does little more than provide a running commentary for the many physical processes happening in the brain and nervous system, and the (advantageous) illusion of a coherent, unified "self"? But I digress.)
And in other related news: a wink sends testosterone soaring:
He paid male students $10 to come into the lab and leave a saliva sample. Unbeknownst to the men, the scientists staged a five-minute chat with a twentysomething female research assistant before they spit. This brief brush set the men's hormones surging: testosterone levels in their spit shot up around 30%. The higher a man's hormone soared, the more the female research assistant judged that he was out to impress - by talking about himself, for example.
A study in Wales has apparently found that domestic violence doubles on days of international rugby matches, and goes up eightfold if Wales are beaten by traditional enemy England. Though the Ananova article is light on details and the whole thing sounds like a rehashing of the Superbowl Sunday urban legend, which Snopes says is false. Wonder which it is. (via Found)
Scientists prove that marriage kills creativity; working from a database of bigraphies of scientists, they discovered that creative genius gets turned off like a tap as soon as one marries and settles down; much the same thing applies to geniuses in music, painting and writing. The good news is that criminality suffers much the same fate (which suggests something like what Greg Egan termed the Clockwork Orange Hypothesis; that genius and criminality or violence are interrelated). The decline in testosterone levels after a man settles down is believed to be related; it is unclear, though, whether the study was performed exclusively on men or on both men and women.
Though that may be why all the well-known writers and artists out of their 20s have rocky relationship histories; perhaps they're just the ones who escaped domestication?
In the UK, a Harley Street gynaecologist has revealed that he prescribed testosterone implants to five women MPs, to help them be more aggressive and assertive in parliament, and thus compete better with male colleagues. Which raises a number of questions; is the Westminster parliamentary system inherently macho and masculine? Is politics really just atavistic territorial posturing, with all the haughty rhetoric about "rational debate" being little more than a polite fiction? And will the increased number of women in parliament lead to a less confrontational, more conciliatory style of politics (as many have hoped), or will it, coupled with medical technology, just create a unisex gladiatorial arena?
If professional wrestling is fake, what about amateur wrestling? The latest trend among bored teenage boys in the US is amateur pro wrestling, done in suburban backyards by outfits with names like Xtreme Championship Wrestling, and imitating the carefully choreographed moves of pro wrestling. Not surprisingly, many of the participants end up injured. (via Leviathan)
The New York Times has an interesting piece on testosterone:
Studies have also shown that men in long-term marriages see their testosterone levels progressively fall and their sex drives subsequently decline. It is as if their wives successfully tame them, reducing their sexual energy to a level where it is more unlikely to seek extramarital outlets.
Men who are excessively testosteroned are not that attractive to most women. Although they have the genes that turn women on ... they can also be precisely the unstable, highly sexed creatures that childbearing, stability-seeking women want to avoid. There are two ways, evolutionary psychologists hazard, that women have successfully squared this particular circle. One is to marry the sweet class nerd and have an affair with the college quarterback: that way you get the good genes, the good sex and the stable home. The other is to find a man with variable T levels...
Those qualities associated with low testosterone -- patience, risk aversion, empathy -- can all lead to excellent governance. They are just lousy qualities in the crapshoot of electoral politics.
What if parents committed to gender equity opted to counteract the effect of testosterone on boys in the womb by complementing it with injections of artificial female hormones? That way, structural gender difference could be eradicated from the beginning. Such a policy would lead to "men and women with normal bodies but identical feminine brains," Matt Ridley posits. "War, rape, boxing, car racing, pornography and hamburgers and beer would soon be distant memories. A feminist paradise would have arrived."