The same section of the brain may process both sexual and violent urges, a new study suggests. In experiments on mice, scientists discovered a tiny cluster of cells in the hypothalamus that flared to life both while the mice were fighting and while they were having sex, Scientific American explains. The researchers suspect humans have a similar cluster of cells.
When these cells were stimulated in male test mice, they’d attack any male that came near them—even castrated ones they’d normally ignore. They’d attack female mice too, but only if they weren’t already mating with them. “I think there’s every reason to think that this would be true in humans,” one of the co-authors said. He theorizes that perhaps in violent sex offenders “there’s some sort of miswiring in these circuits.” (Read more neuroscience stories.)