Scientists have created the world's first video animation of the female orgasm, using a series of brain scan images.
To capture the brain activity, researchers monitored a woman's brain as she lay in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner and stimulated herself.
Psychologists at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where the study was conducted, hope the research will help them to understand the reasons why some men and women cannot reach sexual climax.
Researcher, Professor Barry Komisaruk, who presented the findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington DC on Monday, told the Guardian:
"The general aim of this research is to understand how the orgasm builds up from genital stimulation and what parts of the brain become recruited and finally build up into an orgasm."
The animation is made up of a sequence of brain scans of Nan Wise, a 54-year-old PhD student and sex therapist in Komisaruk's lab.
The video shown is comprised of 20 sequential snapshots of the fMRI data, taken from a seven-minute sequence.
Over the course of the seven minutes, the participant approaches orgasm, reaches orgasm and then enters a quiet period.
Oxygen utilization levels are displayed on a spectrum from dark red (lowest activity) to yellow/white (highest). As can be observed, an orgasm leads to almost the entire brain illuminating yellow, indicating that most brain systems become active at orgasm.
"We're using orgasm as a way of producing pleasure. If we can learn how to activate the pleasure regions of the brain then that could have wider applications," Komisaruk said.