You know that old myth about how men think about sex every seven seconds? It's truer than you think; in fact, new research suggests that men's brains are wired to seek out sex at the expense of food.
That's the conclusion researchers at the University College of London reached in a new study published this week in Nature, which concluded that the brains of human males likely possess a few extra cells ("mystery neurons," as some researchers call them, or MCMs for "mystery cells of the male") that power the constant desire for sex.
There's an important caveat, obviously. The UCL experiment detailed in Nature looked at the behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans worms, so it's not necessarily the same as dissecting a human brain. That's OK, though: these worms are actually "the model animal of choice for many neuroscientists, because their neural circuits are so simple that they can be mapped in full," according to Nature. They're also often used by researchers because "they contain many of the same genes that humans do," according to the Huffington Post.
Anyway, back to the men-love-sex-over-food bit. Here's how the researchers came to that conclusion while experimenting with those mystery cells, per the Washington Post.
When nematodes — hermaphrodites, males, and males with their MCMs deactivated — were kept hungry in areas with lots of salt, the purpose of the MCMs finally made themselves known.
When just hunger was associated with a salty area, all of the nematodes would avoid higher concentrations of salt when moves to a new enclosure.
But when a salty enclosure brought a mate within reach — along with a lack of food — male nematodes would scurry right over to the salty corner of their new enclosure.
Male nematodes who lacked MCMs showed the same behavior as hermaphrodites, choosing to avoid hunger instead of choosing to seek out sex.
Again: they're worms. That said, the discovery of these "mystery" neurons in test subjects that so closely mirror human biology may yield some interesting insights into human sexuality as it's governed by neuroscience. "The male human brain has types of neurons that the female brain doesn't, and vice versa," researcher Scott Emmons, told the Telegraph. "This may change how the two sexes perceive the world and their behavioral priorities."
There you have it. If anyone ever tells you you've got sex on the brain, just tell them it ain't you fault: you were born this way.