in pursuit of pleasure in the rat race

Neuroscientist Kent Berridge is interested in the theory of pleasure.


He’d found that he could watch rats’ facial expressions to judge their reactions to certain tastes. Believe it or not, rats actually look pleased when given sweet things to taste, and produce the rat equivalent of a disgusted look in response to bitterness. 

In another study of pleasure, different regions of a monkey’s brain were stimulated to evoke penile erection and ejaculation. According to the authors of this study, the electrically produced erection did not differ from a normal erection.


But what of comparable data for humans? A male psychiatric patient had electrodes inserted into his brain for “therapeutic” purposes. When his brain was electrically stimulated, he reported experiencing sexual arousal and pleasure. So much pleasure that he stimulated himself as often as 1,500 times an hour. Not surprisingly, he begged for a few more jolts just before the apparatus was put away. 


image sent to me by tobymarx

Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 6:56 am  Comments (25)  

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25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice image – are the cymbals on the head symbolic?

  2. all our patients wear cymbals for ten minutes a day. It stops their brains from overheating 🙂

  3. ‘different regions of a monkey’s brain were stimulated to evoke penile erection and ejaculation. ‘

    In the name of science of course.

  4. 1500 times? I think he’d have turned into a light bulb by then.

  5. Larry Niven wrote a marvelous short story about “current addicts” some time in the 70s, “Death by Ecstasy.” It being the 70s, one of the plot points was that someone had created a cordless method of delivering the electric jolt! But it was a good story.

    Sledpress, I think you must read as many books as I do. Have you checked out the list on my sidebar?

  6. Wow – that’s amazing. The most I ever stimulated myself in an hour was 1300 times.

  7. Coming soon: the erectile dysfunction helmet.

  8. wow… maybe the US can re-open Abu Ghraib prison as a pleasure resort. swords into plowshares and all that rot.

  9. I enjoy having my electrode stimulated, and I am available for study.

  10. How do you tell if a rat ‘looks’ pleased? Rats always look the same to me: ratty.

  11. Brings a whole new meaning to, “you turn me on”, doesn’t it?

  12. Now I’ll have that song in my head all day.

  13. I’m surprised he let them take it away from him if he was enjoying it so much.

  14. haha…. poor guy was a psychiatric patient in a hospital. you think the staff “let” him do anything?

    of course, we’re different at the Gimcrack 🙂

  15. That electrical outlet over there is lookin’ mighty sexy…

  16. Those damned monkeys get all the fun.

    As for stimulating one’s self 1500 times an hour…well, I’m sure Lord Likely would have had something to say on the matter, if only he wasn’t so completely and utterly dead. *Sniff*

    you killed off Lord Likely? oh my….. I’ll be right over to see if I can do cpr

  17. 1500 times an hour? That’s just plain scary.

  18. Um, I hate to inject a note of bleak reality but wouldn’t he need bandages for the blisters on his hands and other more sensitive places?

  19. reality is just a figment of our imagination Kym 🙂

  20. I like the electric battery plasters. Can you buy them in bulk?

  21. can you afford the extra postage? It’s already 3c…

  22. Hook me up!

  23. i have a great fear of electricity. i’ll never voluntatily plug myself in or expose my body parts to “probes” or electrical “plasters.” frankly, wine and soft music work just as well, without all the hurry. or worry.

  24. I think you’re in the majority there Sera

  25. I bet he was well miffed when they tool away his ‘toy’?

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