From Scientific American:
Nothing focuses the mind’s eye like an erotic picture, according to the results of a new study. Even when such pictures were actively canceled out, subliminal images of female nudes helped heterosexual men find the orientation of a briefly shown abstract shape. Such nudity-driven focusing worked almost as well for women, as long as the image accorded with their sexual preference.
Cognitive neuroscientist Sheng He of the University of Minnesota and his colleagues gathered groups of heterosexual men, heterosexual women, homosexual men and bisexual women numbering 10 each. Each viewed special images pointed directly at each individual eye. The researchers could cancel out vision of one eye’s image by presenting a specific high contrast image to the other eye. Such an image, called a Gabor patch, consists of a series of contrasting lines that form an abstract–and visually arresting–shape. “Normally, the two eyes look at the same image. They don’t have any conflict,” he explains. “We create a situation where the two eyes are presented with two images, and then they will have binocular competition. One image is high contrast [and dynamic], the other is static. You basically just see the dynamic image.”