Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Invisible Nudes?

From Dr Gerry Quinn: Dynamic Visual Noise

You can't see them here, because the authors exploited the phenomenon of binocular rivalry to present different images to each eye separately. Specifically, dynamic visual noise and nude male or female images were presented to each eye simultaneously. The visual noise in one eye suppresses the naked body in the other, making its perception unconscious.

Continuing in the sexy series of gay/straight/male/female studies,
Erotica Entices Even When Invisible
By Ker Than

. . .

In an experiment, 40 men and women were shown erotic images that had been manipulated to bypass conscious detection. The participants consisted of both heterosexual and homosexual individuals.

Subjects were then shown a small "probe" pattern and asked to determine its orientation -- clockwise or counterclockwise. The researchers found that subjects identified the probe pattern more accurately when it appeared where the erotic images had been, suggesting that the invisible images exerted an effect on their spatial attentions.

In general, the erotic images attracted or repelled attention depending on the gender of the nude model and also the sexual orientation of the subject. For example, heterosexual males tended to perform better on the pattern task when it followed the presentation of an invisible female nude than a male nude. Gay males, in contrast, showed more enhanced performance when exposed to invisible male nudes compared to female nudes.

. . .

For women, the results were more mixed. Heterosexual females performed better after exposure to invisible male nudes, but their performance didn't necessarily worsen when exposed to female nudes. [NOTE: that doesn't sound like "repels."]

The performances of homosexual and bisexual females were somewhere in-between heterosexual male and heterosexual female groups.
The paper was supposedly published online yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but it's nowhere to be found. We'll just have to make do with LiveScience.com for now.

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At October 26, 2006 12:09 PM, Blogger pneuro said...

Hmm, another attempt to impute sexual preference to the “uninformed” (naïve?) brain. The implication is that such “nativist” response patterns predict and determine orientation. Yet our responses to nudity are very highly socially-determined. Two relevant illustrations are German responses to nudity and American male responses.

For Germans (I’m no expert here, but thought of this in re Ponseti’s alleged endophenotype article), plain nudity seems less eroticized (unless it’s intentionally “ponsetified”), as evidenced by the late-night nude TV shows one reads about. Also, German nudist facilities are labeled “free health zones” (as fellow nudists have informed me – help me out on this, nude readers), and are less likely to be burdened with sexual interpretations by onlookers (perhaps I should say “nonparticipants”) than one finds in the USA.

Pity the poor American male – it’s very difficult to avoid intense homophobic conditioning, which certainly extends to body interpretation. You can see this endlessly in coming-out stories, and in such cultural taboos as “bending over in the shower” (don’t drop that soap!) The advantage that women enjoy in escaping this conditioning has always seemed to me to underpin many of the “gender differences” endlessly imputed to, again, nativist tendencies. As I remarked in a previous comment, these studies would benefit from open acknowledgement that INHIBITION is what they are really looking at. But inhibition is more difficult to impute to native (ie, organic) origins, isn’t it? It certainly is less sexy (except as it intersects with fetishism, perhaps).

BTW, you’re right that unexplored matrimonial fetish could compromise our “missionary/pervert” experiment. (Sidebar: is it more prevalent among couples to whom matrimony is “forbidden”?) Weddings and the whole not-so-coy ritualization of the wedding-night were my first guess at what might arouse the “naively prudish”. What else? Saranwrap? And would I be way off-base in suspecting that some ”jesusfulness” experiences may have a covert erotic component? (Christian readers, help me out on this.)

At October 26, 2006 7:10 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

Helping you out with a Christian perspective: neural correlates of mystical (gay?) experiences of nuns.

At October 30, 2006 4:52 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Ah, finally, the article appears online!

Yi Jiang, Patricia Costello, Fang Fang, Miner Huang, and Sheng He. A gender- and sexual orientation-dependent spatial attentional effect of invisible images.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. Published online before print October 30, 2006

Human observers are constantly bombarded with a vast amount of information. Selective attention helps us to quickly process what is important while ignoring the irrelevant. In this study, we demonstrate that information that has not entered observers' consciousness, such as interocularly suppressed (invisible) erotic pictures, can direct the distribution of spatial attention. Furthermore, invisible erotic information can either attract or repel observers' spatial attention depending on their gender and sexual orientation. While unaware of the suppressed pictures, heterosexual males' attention was attracted to invisible female nudes, heterosexual females' attention was attracted to invisible male nudes, gay males behaved similarly to heterosexual females, and gay/bisexual females performed in-between heterosexual males and females.

More to follow in a full-length post...

And ack! talk about the intense homophobic conditioning of the poor American male, take one look at the trailer for Let's Go to Prison. On second thought, don't.

You make a great point that inhibition, rather than endophenotype, is the construct under study here.


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