Ok..we may be jumping the gun because this is a rat study (here is a study PETA can’t complain about!). But hey…if it turns out to not work in humans are you really going to go stamping angrily to the authors and complain?
Despite the old adage about losing brain cells in college, our brains really do have the ability to create new cells in response to our environment (“plasticity”). As you can imagine, anything that fosters new brain cell development is a good thing, especially in our hippocampus–the region of the brain that gets damaged in Alzheimer’s.
In this particular study, male rats were either exposed to sex one time (acute) or, were put into a group that got daily action for two weeks (chronic, although I still prefer to call this the “lucky” group). Researchers looked at stress hormones as well as brain activity. Here’s what they found:
- Acute sexual experience increased corticosterone levels.
- Acute sex increased the number of new brain cells in the hippocampus.
- Chronic sexual experience, however, no longer produced increased corticosterone levels.
- Chronic sex still continued to promote new brain cells and increased the communication between brain cells (growth of dendritic spines and dendritic architecture).
- Chronic sexual experience also reduced anxiety-like behavior.
So, a little sex is good for the brain, but daily sex is GREAT for the brain and may very well fight off Alzheimer’s.
But really…did we NEED a research study to tell us this?