0.2 seconds. That’s how quickly participants’ brains registered whether a person in a swimsuit was desirable or undesirable in a 2008 study by doctors Stephanie Ortigue and Francesco Bianchi-Demicheli.
It may seem simple, but there’s a lot at work when it comes to sex, attraction and the brain and they may even conflict with one another, not unlike the judges on American Idol.
A study done by Trinity College in Ireland determined that one part of your brain calculates attractiveness and another compares that attraction to what others may perceive.
“First, Salavitz reports, we have a twofer, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which contains two sub-regions: one that judges attractiveness, the other that judges what’s attractive to you, though not necessarily to everyone else (that’s the restromedial prefrontal cortex or rmPFC). The first is what tells me “Ryan Gosling is handsome,” and the second tells me “But I still prefer Benicio del Toro.”
The people who got the most positive response aroused the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, “an area that has previously been found to react to appealing faces,” writes Salavitz, but that didn’t mean those people got asked out.
So if you’re looking to impress, hope that you’re activating a response in that special someone’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Otherwise, you may not be going to Hollywood.