Monday, January 28, 2008

The link between the Sympathetic Nervous System and falling in love...

I bump into a lot of things and discover stuff. Today I was actually trying to solve the guardian crossword. I was trying to find the answer to the clue that said: greater uplands near Manchester. I googled but could not find any clues. Last attempt, I thought I check out Yahoo Answers, and that is where all the intrigue started... On the main page itself there was a small blog preview about a question. I guess a Yahoo Answers staff (who calls himself mike) volunteered to answer the question on his own; and he had also posted a Yahoo Answers blog entry about it.

I went and checked the question out and hoped to see if I get some real hard answers. But no!!! All that was mentioned was about the sympathetic nervous system. In others words the fight/flight response mechanism. No one has given a perfect answer to date. (May be I'd try answering this one my self if need be...). The question itself was in a way too general. And the answer given by mike only answered one part of it; it dealt with what should happen to an individual when he/she is experiencing stressful situations. In other words, situations that are direct threat to life. For e.g. confronting a wild bear. (Remember the example from my previous blogs?)

The part of the question that didn’t get answered was something related to courtship/dating. A teenage boy on seeing an attractive girl in his class would mostly feel butterflies in his stomach. Well, for one thing that isn’t the exact way I would want to put it, but I feel he is nervous asking the girl out or even simply proposing to her. Reading mike’s answer I wondered, how can you liken this to a sympathetic nervous system or a flight/fight response?

In one way what just happened here could be likened to a mating ritual - a ritual adopted by most modern and civilized human beings. But there is a sense of history/evolution in the mating ritual itself! Mating ritual these days are quite notable. The couple goes dancing, has dinner, or goes out on a trip, or spends the night together in a rented lodge. (These things are not written keeping teenagers in mind at the moment, but all adolescent & post-adolescent human beings). We tend to notice these things very often. But rituals in the past were not as simple as it is today. Well, for one thing, females were sort of scare resource, statistically speaking. There would be more males for a single female. All of these males were programmed to expand his generation or his trait. Till date I don’t know why this specific thing happens, but it is natural law. In such a situation the males would battle it out among themselves, and the victor possesses the female.

The females then were actually okay with all of this. No, seriously!!! While the male individuals do what they were naturally selected to do – fight – females also played their part in it. For females it is necessary to find a strong male. A strong male could help her survive in various situations, and one of the most important and critical times when a female would require a male’s physical support is during pregnancy or gestation.

Okay, we are not yet to the point! The teenage male subject we were talking of earlier is not in a stressful situation, or in any way related to experiencing one in the near future. We are just dealing with a case wherein if he did propose the girl would have said yes and life would have gone normally for the two…there is nothing interfering our assumption. (No, evil brother, father, or ex-boyfriend involved in this story). The actors here are both perfectly healthy people capable of mating – I mean they have matured! We observe that the boy is naturally feeling the heat. I have two theories to that would try to explain this…

Theory #1: Possibly the boy’s so called sympathetic nervous system is evaluating or initiating a response. This could mean one of two things. He would run away in case there was a evil third actor involved – the ex-boyfriend perhaps – or fight with the third evil actor. Our evil boy friend is quite possessive about his asset. Therefore if he does interfere he would sure put up a fight. Which means the teenager (the protagonist of this story) would have to fight or run away. This is logical and also relatable to actual life. The boy must be wondering if her parents, or other family members, friends, or even if her actual boy friend is around...

I had come across an article which tried to answer why a particular primitive human prototype’s cranium was large. It was so because they had to endure harsh battles before actually selecting a female.

Theory #2: Let us assume the boy has proposed the girl and she agreed. Again if we simply thought of fight or flight responses, it does not make sense. But I suppose the sympathetic nervous system/response embraces another kind of response – foreplay. If you were a researcher of human evolution, have you ever heard of the phrase ‘pay for having sex’, before the actual sex? Of course, in any modern day human intercourse it is called foreplay. (I don’t know if it is a euphemism though). I don’t have any direct proof which suggests this; but foreplay could be something initiated by either - the male or female. And this blog entry suggests foreplay actually increases the sexual activity of the opposite partner.

Theory 2 opens another door of questions (which is not specifically related to foreplay or the activity called 'foreplay'). And if you are a small-time evolutionary researcher like me, I’ll leave those questions as homework. And you can ask me what those question are if you have figured them out. Of course theory 2 does suggest our protagonist is probably trying to get ready for foreplay...therefore the raise in biological activity.

For those who have not seen this foreplay thingy coming, I know you might have startled at the idea. But I am not in any way alluding to the fact that foreplay is an essential part of sex. And if you happen to be a teenager who is thinking of having sex, always have protected sex. And even if you don’t have “sex”, life will not kill you. Just be happy you are alive. But say you are dying of cancer and you can't accept this...go ahead kill yourself! :)

PS: The references I have used for this entry are embedded in this entry itself. You can also find them in the right side frame - bookmarks.
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