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Health & Medicine Why do Men Love Breasts? Titillating Theory Explains Release of Neurochemical Oxytocin

Why do Men Love Breasts? Titillating Theory Explains Release of Neurochemical Oxytocin

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First Posted: Apr 10, 2013 12:31 PM EDT
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Human evolution has grasped an ancient neural circuit that strengthens the bonds of motherhood between a baby and its keeper. (Photo : Facebook )

Men like them, a lot. In fact, you might even say they love them. And that certainly explains all those frequents to Hooters. Men have a fixation with breasts. They just can't seem to get enough of them, yet, history shows that scientists could never satisfactorily show just why this was true. However, a new study by a neuroscientist demonstrates this explanation that he admits "just makes a lot of sense."

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Larry Young, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University who studies the neurological basis of complex social behaviors, thinks human evolution has grasped an ancient neural circuit that strengths the bonds of motherhood between a baby and its keeper, and so, the results are in-babies love breasts and so do men.

When a woman's nipples are stimulated, such as during breast-feeding, a "love drug" floods her brain, releasing the neurochemical oxytocin, and helps her focus attention and effort on the baby. However, this chemical is not reserved exclusively for infants.

Recent studies have found that nipple stimulation enhances sexual arousal in a great majority of women, and it activates the same brain areas as vaginal and clitoral stimulation. When a sexual partner touches, massages or nibbles a woman's breasts, Young said, this triggers the release of oxytocin in the woman's brain, just like what happens when a baby nurses. But in this context, the oxytocin focuses the woman's attention on her sexual partner, strengthening her desire to bond with this person.

 Attraction to breasts "is a brain organization effect that occurs in straight males when they go through puberty," Young said, according to Life's Little Mysteries. "Evolution has selected for this brain organization in men that makes them attracted to the breasts in a sexual context, because the outcome is that it activates the female bonding circuit, making women feel more bonded with him. It's a behavior that males have evolved in order to stimulate the female's maternal bonding circuitry." 

As to why this evolutionary change has not happened in other breast-feeding mammals, Young believes, is because we form monogamous relationships, whereas 97 percent of mammals do not. "Secondly, it might have to do with the fact that we are upright and have face-to-face sex, which provides more opportunity for nipple stimulation during sex. In monogamous voles, for example, the nipples are hanging toward the ground and the voles mate from behind, so this didn't evolve," he said. "So, maybe the nature of our sexuality has allowed greater access to the breasts."Attraction to breasts "is a brain organization effect that occurs in straight males when they go through puberty," Young told Life's Little Mysteries. "Evolution has selected for this brain organization in men that makes them attracted to the breasts in a sexual context, because the outcome is that it activates the female bonding circuit, making women feel more bonded with him. It's a behavior that males have evolved in order to stimulate the female's maternal bonding circuitry."

However, anthropologist Fran Mascia-Lees from Rutgers University combats the theory, noting that not all men are attracted to breasts. "Always important whenever evolutionary biologists suggest a universal reason for a behavior and emotion: how about the cultural differences?" Mascia-Lees wrote in an email.

Young's theory can be seen in his new book "The Chemistry Between Us", co-authored by Brian Alexander. 

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