Main»Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Drew guested on CNN's 'Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees' on March 7th, 2005 to talk about the differences in men and women's brain activity when exposed to sexual content. The follow transcript was taken from the Anderson Cooper website:


COOPER: Let's take that research and apply it to your own love life. Joining me now is Dr. Drew Pinsky, a relationship expert and co-host of the syndicated radio program "Loveline."

Dr. Drew, good to see you.

DR. DREW PINSKY, "LOVELINE": Anderson.

COOPER: Let's talk about what's happening in the appetite centers of the brain when a man looks at sexual images versus women.

PINSKY: Right. That's the key difference. With women, they have arousal, they experience arousal, they describe arousal, but the actual appetite centers do not activate so there is no desire necessarily associated with arousal. With men, it goes visual arousal and drive. Immediately they want to do something with that material they're looking at. Women, they can appreciate it, they can look at it. I had this with my own wife one day. She said, ah, that Billy Idol, he's so hot. And I go, what are you talking about? Do you want to have sex -- no, just because I say he's hot doesn't mean I want to have sex with him. How dare you? Those things are disconnected for me. And I go, oh, there you go...

COOPER: Was this Billy Idol like mid-'80s Billy Idol or...

(CROSSTALK)

PINSKY: ... the more recent Billy Idol too, so he's making a comeback. But I actually went in the scanner myself. I'm doing a program for the Discovery Health Channel, and I was aware of doctor -- there's research being done down at Emory and I sent my crew down there, and I went into the scanner (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COOPER: So what surprised you most?

PINSKY: Well, a couple of things surprised me. One was the depth of the arousal pattern, the drive patterns that were sort of activating in my brain. There is profound...

COOPER: Now, this is a scan where you're looking at pictures?

PINSKY: They have you look at neutral pictures and arousing pictures, different kinds of arousing pictures. And it's actually -- the sexual pictures were actually picked by women to be most arousing to women. Interesting that the men still react to them most prominently.

And the thing -- other than seeing my brain light up with these powerful, powerful drives in response to some of this material, the other thing that was really interesting is they show you explicit gay erotica, too, men in provocative poses. And I sort of went through it, and I didn't think anything of it -- and I consider myself -- I just sort of have a neutral reaction to it. And yet, my scan, when I looked at my scan, it showed a bilateral threat response, which is really...

COOPER: And how do you see that in the brain?

PINSKY: Well, it's a thalamic response, a typical response that the researchers were noting in regard to most men when they looked at this material. It was interesting. Heterosexual men who looked at that material seemed to have -- some say -- and he's not broken it at all down yet to look at maybe -- do homosexual men have a similar kind of response? Is that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We really don't know what to make of that yet.

COOPER: What is this translated to? I mean, how does this help people in their love lives at home?

PINSKY: To me, the bottom line is, look, we -- you and I differ from a female human by an entire base -- by an entire chromosome. We differ from chimpanzees by a few hundred fragments of DNA. I mean, the differences between a male human and a female human are profound, an entire chromosome different. Why are we surprised at their biological differences? So the fact is, there are these amazing biological differences. And frankly, I believe the female is probably more developed form of the human being.

Be that as it may, these differences are there. Why don't we learn to appreciate these differences and understand them, rather than pretend they're not there? So in order to have a relationship, you have got to be able to appreciate how the other person comes to the same circumstance.

COOPER: And I think a lot of men don't necessarily get that a lot of times.

PINSKY: Oh, absolutely not. I think it's actually the women that have a tougher time with it, frankly. It's like, how can he be like that? When I go out to college campuses and give talks, most of what women want to talk to me about is, what's going with the men? I read "Cosmo," I read these magazines, they tell me all I have to do is these 10 things and everything is great. I don't understand how he works. I don't understand how we can share this moment and he walks away.

Well, the reality is, there is a hormone called oxytocin, that is released in both men and women...

COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cuddle...

PINSKY: The bonding hormone or the cuddle hormone or what not, and it's released by our pituitaries. And in women, it's a profound bonding experience when that hormone floods their system. In a male, under the influence of testosterone, that hormone has very little influence. It doesn't work. So men are sort of wired in a way as to sort of not be bonded by intimate physical contact.

COOPER: It's fascinating, the differences. Dr. Drew Pinsky, thanks very much.

PINSKY: My pleasure.

COOPER: Well, coming up tomorrow night, we are going to continue our special series of "Two Minds," with the look at separating the boys from the girls in the classroom. Is single-sex education really better for your child? On Wednesday, body talk in the office. How you might be sending the wrong message to the opposite sex in meetings or at the water cooler. Thursday, the humor gap between men and women. And on Friday, blame the hormones, the male midlife crisis and male menopause.

Coming up next on 360, viewer e-mail, plus looking for an exotic vacation (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We take one option to "The Nth Degree." Before you pack your bags, you better like North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, because that's where you may be going. We'll tell you why ahead.