February 07, 2008

Pucker Up, Baybee!


The Science of Kissing, or Why Researchers Never Get To First Base:

Since kissing evolved, the act seems to have become addictive. Human lips enjoy the slimmest layer of skin on the human body, and the lips are among the most densely populated with sensory neurons of any body region. When we kiss, these neurons, along with those in the tongue and mouth, rocket messages to the brain and body, setting off delightful sensations, intense emotions and physical reactions.

Of the 12 or 13 cranial nerves that affect cerebral function, five are at work when we kiss, shuttling messages from our lips, tongue, cheeks and nose to a brain that snatches information about the temperature, taste, smell and movements of the entire affair. Some of that information arrives in the somatosensory cortex, a swath of tissue on the surface of the brain that represents tactile information in a map of the body. In that map, the lips loom large because the size of each represented body region is proportional to the density of its nerve endings.

"Uh, when we kiss my somatosensory cortex brain-dump! system overload! Whooneeeeguhh! Wowwweee!!!! can't help noticing the size of your lips as represented in a figurative tactile map of your body Oooooboy! goodbye holodeck come to papa neeeerrgggh!!!"

I jest. It's actually an interesting article. But there is a certain amount of the Duh Factor. To wit:

According to new findings, kissing may play a crucial role in the progression of a partnership but one that differs between men and women. In a study published in September 2007 Gallup and his colleagues surveyed 1,041 college undergraduates of both sexes about kissing. For most of the men, a deep kiss was largely a way of advancing to the next level sexually. But women were generally looking to take the relationship to the next stage emotionally, assessing not simply whether the other person would make a first- rate source of DNA but also whether he would be a good long-term partner.

As James Taranto is wont to say, what would we do without findings. Hell, I was an English major and even I knew that.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

Posted by Robert at February 7, 2008 05:21 PM | TrackBack