View Full Version : "LUST and the SEEKING system"

06-16-14, 02:08 PM
..Despite their many interesting differences, the sexes also share so much, even at the primary-process level.

We mentioned above that the brains of each sex contain residual sexual circuits typical of the opposite sex.

So vasopressin circuits are found in the brains of females in smaller abundance, and oxytocin circuits exists in male brains but in smaller abundance.

How might these circuits function?

We speculate that vasopressin systems in the female brain may help to energize some of the more aggressive aspects of maternal behavior (e.g., protecting the young from harm); conversely, oxytocin systems may sustain some of the gentler aspects of the male behavior (e.g.,the tendency of fathers to be non aggressive and supportive toward their offspring).

In any event, despite the many differences among species in the way they manage sexuality, it appears at the primary-process level as if all mammals share remarkably similar LUST circuits (Pfaus et al., 2003)


It is important to recognize that, as with the pursuit of every other sort of reward, the SEEKING system is recruited in the task of finding sexual companions.

This means that, in addition to the sexual chemicals mentioned above, sexual desire and eagerness are promoted by dopamine-fueled SEEKING.

In human society, the dopamine-driven search for companionship is facilitated in myriad ways: matchmaking friends, singles bars, dating agencies, and the Internet, to name a few.

Indeed whether one is seeking intellectual or carnal knowledge via the Internet, it is the SEEKING system that drives the action.

As we emphasized in Chapter 3, this dopamine fueled engagement in affect-filled (euphoric) actions plays a part in the search for all environmental delights , including sex.

There is some evidence that this system may be some what more vigorous in males than in females , but this observation could be largely situation-specific--dictated more by specific rewards, survival duties and the ecological constraints in which animals find themselves.

For instance, when mother rats gather offspring that have dispersed from the nest, it is oxytocin stoking the SEEKING system that initiates much of the work.

Males are not especially eager to undertake such tasks, so as far as caring is concerned, the SEEKING system appears to be more responsive in females.

We know that the SEEKING system is sensitized--becomes hyper-responsive--to a variety of life challenges, including stress, hunger, and drugs of abuse.

When it is sensitized, animals are more eager to pursue all kings of rewards--food, sexual contact, and drug-induced thrills (Nocjar & Panksepp, 2002).

Thus, even though the SEEKING system seems slightly more active in males than females in many situations, the reverse is the case in others.

-Panksepp/Biven, "The Archaeology of Mind", P 258-259.