Jokes about the female breast and about men staring at this breast, the main theme in comedies and is already a kind of stamp. How many times have we seen men talking with a curvaceous and seductive lady just to make her say with a meaningful look: “Hey man, look into the eyes!”
It's funny - or, in any case, it was funny the first ten times we saw it - because in fact this is what happens. The male gaze always slides down, so to speak, to the south. But why? Why are heterosexual men so excited about the female breast, and we act like she is the habitat of the soul?
Well, it just so happened to us to be heterosexual men. In addition, it just so happened that we are interested in biology - one of us, Larry, belongs to the leading specialists in the field of neurobiology of social connections. Therefore, we think about all this. And in our new book, “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction”, we offer the answer to this question.
In the language of biology, the fact that human males are so passionate and obsessed with the appearance of the female breast is an incomprehensible and mysterious phenomenon. Men are the only male mammals that are attracted to the breast in a sexual aspect. And women are the only female mammals whose breasts increase not only during pregnancy, but also with the onset of puberty. Humans are the only species of animals whose males caress, stroke, and even stimulate their mouths before or during intercourse.
And, most likely, women like such attention, at least at certain points. When Roy Levin of the University of Sheffield and Cindy Meston of the University of Texas conducted a survey among 158 men and 153 women, they found that in almost 82% of women, breast or nipple stimulation increased sexual arousal. And almost 60% of women specifically ask their partner to touch their nipples.
And, as a rule, men are happy to provide partners with such a service. Judging by the success and popularity of the Hooters chain of restaurants ("Tits"), men's magazines, countless sites and, finally, art, whose history is almost 10 thousand years old, men’s breasts are terribly attracted to them. And not because boys from early childhood in the gateway learn that breasts are just what they should be interested in. It is biologically predetermined; it is recorded in the brain. And, interestingly, studies show that as soon as a man sees a chest in front of him or even something related to a breast, for example, a bra, he begins to make the wrong decisions (while he does not only go to eat at the Hooters restaurant).
For example, in one study, men were offered cash rewards. They could receive a few euros right away or, provided they wait a few days, even more money. This experiment, which is a variant of the classic “deferred remuneration” (which behavioral economists call the “intertemporal choice”), consisted of the following: some men watched a video with a simple, naive plot, while others watched a video in which almost attractive nude women - as in the "Rescuers of Malibu." In terms of monetary rewards, those of men who looked at the female breast in all its glory much more often preferred a small amount, but immediately, compared with those who watched pastoral scenes.
This, apparently, indicates that those areas of their brain that are associated with the “reward”, pleasure centers and areas responsible for purposeful motivation, with their reaction suppressed the processes occurring in the centers associated with assessing the situation, making decisions, control of impulses, which are located mainly in the prefrontal cortex. Neurotransmitters initiate these chains of motivation and rewards, they begin to dominate, and men decide to accept “fast” money as a result.
Thus, female breasts are extremely seductive. But what purposes can this serve?
Some evolutionary biologists have suggested that a large breast contains the necessary amount of fat, which, in turn, indicates to a man that a woman is in good health, which means that she is an excellent candidate, suitable for giving birth and raising children. But men are not particularly selective for sexual partners. In the end, male germ cells are enough, and we do not mind them. And since we, men, do not become pregnant, do not give birth to children, we will not die from us if we sow them left and right. And if the main purpose of sex - from the point of view of evolution - is to transfer their genes, then it would be more reasonable to have sexual relations with the maximum number of women, regardless of how much they look like the girlfriend of the month from the reversal of the last issue of Playboy.
Other hypotheses are based on the idea that, in most primates, mating occurs in the male position. This explains the fact that some female monkeys actively and in all their glory demonstrate their ass. As for people, scientists believe that the female breast has become larger over time precisely in order to resemble the female buttocks in shape and shape.
In our opinion, all these arguments are complete nonsense! The point is completely different, from a psychological point of view, there is only one explanation. It is based on the mechanisms acting in the brain, through which a strong bond is formed between the mother and the child.
When a woman gives birth to a baby, her newborn baby begins to perform a series of actions and join the system of complex processes associated with feeding from the mother’s breast. The stimulating actions of the child send a signal through the nerve fibers to the brain. There, under the influence of these signals, the hypothalamus begins to secrete neurotransmitters and oxytocins. This release of oxytocin stimulates the smooth muscles of the female breast, as a result of which milk begins to stand out, which provides nutrition to her infant.
But the release of oxytocin causes other reactions. Since oxytocin is released under the influence of the child, the mother begins to give him all her attention. The child becomes for her the most important creature in the world. As a result of the interaction of oxytocin with dopamine, the child’s face, his smell and voice are imprinted in those neural chains of the mother’s brain that are associated with a sense of pleasure and reward. Thus, nursing and raising a child becomes a very pleasant activity for the mother, she strives for this activity, and, as a result, the bond between the mother and the child is strengthened. Such a relationship is not only the finest of all social ties, it can become the most durable and last throughout life.
Another feature of man is that people, unlike most other animals, have sexual intercourse face to face and look into each other's eyes. We believe that such a bizarre feature of human sexuality is based on the ancient system of neural circuits in the human brain, providing a close connection between mother and child, which can now serve to strengthen communication between sexual partners.
When the partner touches the female nipples, strokes them and caresses, the same mechanisms and reactions are launched in the brain as when feeding and nursing a child. The woman’s attention is focused on the man’s face, his smell and voice. The combination of oxytocin, released under the influence of breast stimulation, and dopamine, the level of which increases sharply under the influence of stimulation from caresses and intercourse, makes the woman's face and eyes associate with pleasant feelings, and a connection is formed in her brain connecting her with a partner.
Therefore, you can joke as you please, but there is nothing terrible and unhealthy in the fact that we are irresistibly attracted to your female breast. This is a subconscious, an attraction that has been formed throughout evolution, prompting us men to activate powerful neural chains that help to form connections between people who love and care for each other.
InoSMI materials contain estimates of exclusively foreign media and do not reflect the position of the InoSMI editorial staff.
Other categories describe, for example, an areola with breast tissue, but without a nipple (category three), or an areola on its own, without a nipple and breast tissue (category seven). In one category, the nipple and areola are present, but in it the adipose tissue replaces the characteristic glandular breast tissue (category five).
The most common category is number six. In this case, an additional nipple is formed, but the areola is absent. This phenomenon is called polythelium. Although Kayava created his classification a hundred years ago, both doctors and scientists still use it.
To understand how, where and why additional nipples may appear on a person’s body, it will not be out of place to first of all figure out where their usual pair comes from.
After the sperm penetrates the egg, they combine to form an embryo. (Eight weeks after fertilization, the human embryo is called the “fetus.”) At about the fourth week of embryonic development, two strips of ectoderm, the outer germ layer from which the skin epithelium and nervous system subsequently develop, become somewhat thicker. These strips, known as the “milk lines” (mamillary lines), extend from the armpits, pass through the chest and abdomen, and then descend along the hips to the inner edges of the inguinal folds. In the following weeks and months, the stripes become even thicker and are called the mid-clavicular lines. As a result, these seals regress and remain only in the area where the breasts and nipples continue to develop.
Sometimes, however, the thickening of the milk line does not disappear completely. When this happens, an extra nipple may form. Then it is either a fully formed breast (mammary gland), i.e. Kayava's number one category, or just a nipple, as in number six. Most of them are located below normal nipples, but, as follows from some sources, in 13% of cases they can be higher, for example, under the armpits.
"Such an education can be uncomfortable after childbirth, when it starts lactating in unison with two" authorized "relatives," writes Dr. Norman Grossl in the Southern Medical Journal, a scientific medical journal published in Birmingham, Alabama, USA .
Knowledge about additional nipples originated long before the advent of modern medicine. The ancient Greeks sometimes portrayed the goddess Artemis, the huntress, as well as the patroness of fertility and chastity, the assistant during childbirth, with numerous breasts. Such is Artemis of Ephesus. Admirers of the Phoenician version of the fertility goddess - Astarte (Ishtar in Mesopotamia) believed that additional breasts and nipples indicate abundant fertility.
People once believed that men with accessory nipples possess baboutmore sexual force than they get together with two. Although it is now known that additional nipples are not associated with an increased ability to reproduce, this idea was taken quite seriously by medical practitioners relatively recently - in the 19th century.
Charles Darwin himself wrote about the presence of additional breasts or nipples in the book "The Origin of Man and Sexual Selection." He suggested that additional nipples are atavism or the legacy of our evolutionary past, which sneaked into the modern face of a person in the process of his development.
This is not such a crazy idea: after all, the embryo, as it develops, first resembles our ancestors, fish and reptiles, then becoming like a mammal and eventually turning into a primate. Many other mammals have more than two breasts on their milk lines. Cows have four, dogs have eight to 10, rats 12, and pigs 18.
Darwin, not without reason, believed that additional nipples in humans are nothing more than a manifestation of traits inherent in the ancestors, and preserved for one reason or another during the development of the fetus. But since additional nipples can occur not only along milk lines, we now know that they are mostly just quirks of embryonic development.
If additional nipples are rare, then those that do not appear on milk lines (they are also called ectopic, i.e. displaced) are even less common. If and when additional nipples arise, then they can be anywhere, on any part of the body. It can be the back, shoulders, limbs, neck, face. In addition, they are found on the vulva, i.e. the external labia in women, as well as in the perineum.
Proponents of one of the theories believe that ectopic nipples are modified sweat glands. Or, others say, they show that the milk lines somehow appeared during embryonic development and arose in an unexpected place where nipples naturally formed on them.
In most cases, additional nipples are barely noticeable. Some of them can be mistaken for moles or birthmarks. But if there is glandular tissue (such breast tissue that accompanies normal nipples), they can undergo the same types of hormonal changes and suffer from the same diseases that affect ordinary tissues.
Even in cases where excess nipples do not reveal themselves before the onset of puberty or pregnancy of their owners, they can change pigmentation, swell, become sensitive and even excrete milk. In these cases, they behave like normal nipples and breasts, just located in unusual places on the body. They are also capable of forming cancerous tumors, like regular breasts.
Although the additional nipples and breasts are not atypical in themselves (if you do not take into account their number), some scientists have suggested that their presence may be associated with disorders of the kidneys or urogenital system.
It is not yet clear what exactly can cause such a relationship. Apparently, this can be explained by the fact that the genitourinary, renal and mammary gland systems arise simultaneously in the process of embryonic development. And although the frequency of disorders of the genitourinary or renal systems is observed on average in 1-2% of the population, it is believed that in people with additional nipples it can reach 14.5% or even more.
However, the general misfortune of this kind of research is the lack of statistics and samples. So, other scientists say that this connection is imaginary. According to them, doctors do not have to search for urogenital or renal complications in their patients only on the basis that they have additional nipples.
Most owners of the third nipple are not too concerned about this feature of their body. Someone removes them for cosmetic reasons. Some historical chronicles recorded more extreme stories. In one of the messages from 1827, a story is given about a Frenchwoman with a third breast on her left thigh. After the birth of the baby, this breast began to secrete milk. “The woman continued this breast to the child who willingly took it,” Dr. Grossle writes. “As it turned out, she had five children whom she fed with all three breasts.”
A 1980 report described a case of an ectopic accessory nipple that looked like a “well-shaped mass that resembled a woman’s chest on the inside of the thigh of a 74-year-old man.” This "fatty tumor", as he put it, never really bothered him, and he refused to remove it.
You can read the original article in English on the BBC Future website.