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Our feet are our least sexy body parts, says science

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Science unveils our sexiest parts

What's the sexiest part of the body? A new study set out to find the answer — and you might be surprised at the results.

Man kissing a woman's shoulders

You know that cliché — the one where men are sexually obsessed with women's feet? Yeah, well maybe, but women don't share the feeling. A new study by Bangor University and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa found that feet are actually the least sexually sensitive of our body parts, followed by our kneecaps.

The study — billed as the first "systematic survey of the magnitude of erotic sensations from various body parts" — measured responses from 800 people from Europe and Africa to find out which body parts are considered erogenous zones. They were asked to rank 41 body parts in order of sexual sensation. The genitalia (naturally) made the top spot, while lips, ears, inner thighs and shoulder blades were also ranked near the top.

Surprisingly, men listed the backs of their legs as erogenous zones, but women don't feel the same way.

"A lot of people assume that women's bodies are just full of erogenous zones and that men have only one, the obvious one," lead study researcher Oliver Turnbull of Bangor University's School of Psychology said in the study, published in the journal Cortex.

"But this is clearly not the case," he added. "It's pretty equal, with just perhaps a modest advantage to women — but certainly nothing like the way the sex differences have been so hugely exaggerated."

Researchers also found that erogenous zones are relatively consistent no matter the geography.

"We have discovered from this that we all share the same erogenous zones in at least two very different continents, whether we are a white, middle-aged, middle-class woman sitting in a London office or a gay man living in a village in Africa. It suggests it is hardwired, built in, not based on cultural or life experience," Turnbull said.

Researchers believe this means sexual response is controlled by a different part of the brain than that involved with our sense of touch. Turnbull believes that there's a "good argument" that sexual response is controlled by the part of the cerebral cortex called the insula, which is involved with consciousness and emotion.

"There are a few ethical issues in trying to take the next step and measure that, as it obviously means that someone has to be stroking someone else whilst the brain is monitored," he added. "It is interesting, though. A lot of people think that science shouldn't be looking at such things, but if it's something that human beings are interested in — and we clearly are around sex and intimacy — then it's something scientists should study."

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