Nudity and Our Society: Why Nudity Appeals to Human Brain


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A new study conducted by researchers at Aalto University and the University of Tampere shows that the human brain processes nude and clothed bodies in different ways; the study reflects the pattern of arousal elicited by the former.

Researchers recorded visual brain responses of participants shown both nude and scantily-clad photographs, of models of both genders. They found that the participants processed images of the nude body in less than 0.2 seconds.

Photo Credit: Reuters. Using the MRI imaging technology to map the brain of human beings, researchers found that nudity triggers human brain.

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The brain responses were strongest when participants looked at the photograph of nude models, followed by those in swimsuits or partially clothed. The weakest processing times were for fully clothed models.

The belief that the opposite sex attracts each other held somewhat true; male participants’ brains responded stronger to photographs of female models. However, the women’s responses were unaffected by the gender of the models.

Autonomic measurements and self-evaluations showed that nude bodies were affectively more arousing compared to the other stimulus categories, the authors Jari K. Hietanen and Lauri Nummenmaa said, in a report published in the November issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

Hietanen and Nummenmaa used MRI technology to map the brain and concluded that early visual processing of human bodies is sensitive to the visibility of the sex-related features and that the visual processing of other people’s nude bodies is enhanced in the brain. The authors stated that past evidence and studies proved the triggered response of human and primate brains to facial expressions.

The researchers also explained how visual processing of other people’s nude bodies is possibly beneficial in identifying potential mating partners and competitors, and for triggering sexual behavior.

Clothing hides bodily features relevant for sexual selection and arousal, the authors wrote.

The study, to some extent explains why nude art and paintings or photographs of scantily clad bodies appeal more than fully clad ones.

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3 thoughts on “Nudity and Our Society: Why Nudity Appeals to Human Brain

  1. Nudity is a notion, the society have become quite overwhelmed by it and no longer hold meaning or trigger any sort of arousal. We have seen where more clothed Ladies and Gents get more attention and attractiveness than the naked or almost naked ones.
    more over those who force nudity on our faces are often the ones who don’t appeal to no one weather clothed or nude,

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  2. Don its own this study has interest but no great new incites. It needs a comparatative study with subjects from a nude culture to determine if it is learnt or inate. Anecdotal evidence from Naturism indicates that the differences in response are largely learnt.

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  3. I’m curious to know whether the study included people who grew up in environments where nude exposure was common. The response to nudity may differ between someone who grew up in a nudist resort vs someone who grew up in a more conservative Puritan community.
    Someone who grew up in our modern society wouldn’t think a woman in a barely there bikini was anything special or unusual. But someone one hundred years ago seeing the same thing would have responded differently, I imagine.
    Nudity is just skin to me. But certain articles of clothing that cover in a way that gives the viewer an impression that the wearer was trying to cover his/herself but failed to an extent, is alluring. A stolen look at the forbidden is more arousing than that which is freely shown.

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