Men are hardwired to seek sex over food, and they have specific neurons firing to override the urge to find food when the possibility of sex is present, a new study published in the Nature journal suggests. Women do not have these neurons.
Actually, researchers only located the neurons in male nematode worms, not humans — but scientists at University College London suggest that the neurons are proof of similar “sexually dimorphic plasticity in learning,” or gender-based differences in development.
“Though the work is carried out in a small worm, it nevertheless gives us a perspective that helps us appreciate and possibly understand the variety of human sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identification,” the paper’s co-author, professor Scott Emmons, told the Telegraph. “Although we have not looked in humans, it is plausible that the male human brain has types of neurons that the female brain doesn't, and vice versa. This may change how the two sexes perceive the world and their behavioral priorities.”
The new cells, dubbed “MCMs” or “mystery cells of the male,” were found in male nematodes but not in the other sex found within the species, hermaphrodites. The latter worms, which carry their own sperm, can reproduce without sex.
In trials, all worms were placed in the presence of salt when they were starving, which eventually conditioned the worms to move away from the salt. When a potential mate was presented at the same time as salt however, the males still moved toward the salt, while the hermaphrodites moved away, even in the presence of a mate.
Again, scientists have not confirmed the presence of these specific neurons in male brains, but keep this in mind the next time you and your partner are thinking about what to do for dinner — it’s possible that only one of you cares.