John-Thomas Didymus

If you have taken seriously your doctor's recommendation of Sudoku to fend off Alzheimer's, you need to reconsider. According to Professor Barry Komisaruk of Rutgers University, orgasms offer a much better workout for the brain and are better for staving off Alzheimer's than Sudoku.

Komisaruk, a neuroscientist, said that for exercising the brain and maintaining its power, orgasms are much better than Sudoku because they stimulate the brain more powerfully and more widely than crossword puzzles.

Komisaruk, 72, has studied the link between orgasms, brain activity and function for decades. He claims that during orgasm there is a surge in activity across a wide area of the brain, but only a relatively small and localized section of the brain is involved when we do crossword puzzles.

"Mental exercises increased brain activity but only in relatively localized regions. Orgasm activates the whole,” he said.

Komisaruk conducted research at the school’s lab in the psychology department in New Jersey using female volunteers. He began his studies in the 1960s using rats before he began recruiting human volunteers for laboratory studies in the 1980s.

He was able to take measurements of blood flow across regions of the brain during orgasm. He found that orgasm enhances blood flow to the brain.

"At orgasm we see a tremendous increase in the blood flow [to the brain]. So my belief is it can’t be bad. It brings all the nutrients and oxygenation to the brain," he said.

His research studies (PDF) uncovered sensory pathways that bypass the spinal cord and convey sensory information from the female reproductive organs to the brain through the vagus nerve. He found that (PDF) women who have suffered "complete injury, at any level of the spinal cord" were able to experience "brain-mediated responses" to vaginal stimulation, including orgasm.

His studies showed that "vaginal-cervical" stimulation also blocks pain sensations in female animals, including women. About a decade ago, he published a pioneering study that revealed for the first time the brain regions involved in orgasm in women.

Komisaruk is also the author of the award winning book "The Science of Orgasm."

In an interview with the Times newspaper, he emphasized the need for more research into the brain's pleasure mechanisms, saying that very little is known about sexual climax and the physiological functions of pleasure.

The Telegraph reports he said: "We know virtually nothing about pleasure. It’s important to understand how the brain produces it. What parts of the brain produce such intense pleasure, and can we use that in some way? What would that do to depression or anxiety or addiction or pain?"

Although his singular devotion to the study of orgasm has scandalized some of his academic colleagues at Rutgers, his thesis is that a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of pleasure in the brain could equip the medical sciences with innovative techniques for treating anxiety, depression, addiction and pain.