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How Does Porn Affect The Brain

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Viewing Pornography Rewires Your Brain

Part 1: Introduction | Your Brain on Porn | Animated Series

When your brains reward center triggers that release of dopamine and related chemicals, it also releases a protein that serves as a reinforcer. In effect, it creates neural pathways to connect what someone is doing to how they feelin this case, strongly connecting pleasure to the act of watching pornography.

This connection in turn results in greater demand for the activity, making it more and more likely that one returns to porn, according to the Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction report. If enough of this reinforcing protein builds up, it can cause lasting changes to your brain that leaves you even more vulnerable to addiction.

When neural pathways connect your brains reward center with something harmful, it can overwhelm previously held beliefs about whats unethical or inappropriate and make you think those things are normal. One study found that people exposed to significant amounts of porn thought that things like violent sex were twice as common as those not exposed to porn thought.

Porn’s Effect On The Brain

Recent research has shown that non-drug addictions such as gambling, binge-eating, and sexual activities affect brain function in ways similar to alcohol and drug addiction. Many addiction studies focus on what is referred to as the pleasure/reward circuitry and their corresponding neurotransmitters – chemicals that are responsible for the communication between neurons. One of the neurotransmitters frequently identified as central to addiction is dopamine. A behavior or drug that produces pleasure induces a rush of dopamine that ultimately “reinforces” that behavior, making it more likely to occur. The amygdala, basal ganglia, and other reward centers play a role in the reinforcement of the activity that produces pleasure.

Changes in the brain’s neural pathways are referred to as “plasticity” and “synaptic plasticity” refers to changes among neuronal connections .

  • Research substantiates the idea that porn addiction can alter brain plasticity.
  • Non-drug addictions, like internet and pornography use, may lead to changes similar to those reported with long-term drug use.

Additionally, increased pornography use is associated with:

Occupational Safety And Health In The Industry

Because the creation of pornography involves unsimulated sex, usually without condoms ” rel=”nofollow”> barebacking), pornographic actors have been found to be particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation tried several times to have California’s Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s Appeals Board force companies in the pornography industry to treat actors and actresses as employees subject to occupational safety and health regulation. In a 2014 case brought against Treasure Island Media, an administrative judge ruled that the company had to comply with the regulations.

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Porn Can Change Sexual Beliefs

We start to desire what we see in porn. We start to need more novel types of porn to get the same high we got with our first porn encounter. The more porn is consumed, the more it changes how we see women. It can even lead us to think violence is sexy. Looking at these images and videos can pornify a persons outlook on life. and how they see the world and women as sex objects. Studies show that porn can change the way people view women. A 2020 longitudinal study found, Compelling evidence shows that frequency of pornography exposure is associated with negatively perceived body image and sexual body image.6

Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant found that people who watched porn were desensitized to violent sex and rape. People who watched porn had a lower view of traditional institutions like marriage and family.7

What Kind Of Research Was This

6 Shocking Ways Pornography Affects the Brain, In One Infographic

This was a cross sectional study to determine whether frequent pornography viewing was associated with the frontostriatal network an area of the brain associated with reward seeking, novelty seeking and addictive behaviour.

The researchers say that since pornography appeared on the Internet, the accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of consuming visual sexual stimuli have increased and attracted millions of users.

Incredibly, one study estimated that around 50% of all internet traffic is pornography-related.

They indicated that pornography consumption has elements of reward-seeking, novelty-seeking and addictive behaviour. They hypothesized that people watching a lot of porn may overstimulate these areas. So, as a natural counterbalance, this might lead to the dampening down of these brain responses. Similar to the way a drug addict might need higher doses to get the same effect as the body adapts.

The research looked to see whether the size and function of specific parts of the brain related to these behaviours were different across different levels of porn viewing.

One of the big issues with studies like this is that you cant tell cause and effect or which came first. For example, the study cant tell us whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn.

A longitudinal study, where participants are tracked over time, would be needed to investigate this fully.

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When people get depressed, they may get lonely and tend to masturbate, he said. If theyre having anxiety, the problem occurs when the only way you know how to calm yourself is with masturbation in those cases, porn is the symptom, not the problem.

In fact, in Kerners experience, ethical, so-called feminist pornography which often features storylines, and always contracted, paid adults having consensual sex can enhance couples sexual experiences by helping partners get warmed up and be creative in the bedroom.

Perhaps counterintuitively, watching porn may also help keep some relationships intact, he said.

I know a lot of men who travel and are happy to masturbate to porn rather than potentially pursue infidelity, Kerner said. When there are natural libido gaps in a relationship maybe one partner is interested in sex more than the other partner, maybe one just had a baby and cant have sex, or maybe illness is involved porn is actually a really positive way to smooth over those libido gaps.

As for adolescents consuming porn, the Virginia legislators argue that the average age of exposure to porn is 11 to 12 a stat that certainly would scare any responsible parent, yet one which Kerner argued, if true, suggests a deeper issue for discussion.

What dont we know about porn?

And yet, experts like Struthers argue that basic psychological science suggests frequent exposure to something like porn may indeed lead to normalization of harmful behaviors.

Statistics On Porn Use

One does not have to go very far to obtain pornography there are literally millions of websites at an internet user’s fingertips. Estimates of the amount of internet use devoted to pornography range from 4% to 46% , according to the media.

Research on porn paints a more precise picture, including the following statistics:

  • 46% of men and 16% of women between the ages of 18 and 39 intentionally view pornography in a given week.
  • In a study of people ages 18-26, roughly two thirds of young men and one half of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.
  • In that same study, nearly 9 out of 10 young men and nearly one third of young women reported using pornography.
  • Among the elderly, while sexual intercourse decreases, masturbation and the use of pornography increases.

Most people who use porn do not spend that much time on it. Some highlights, derived from the data collected through a survey conducted by the Kinsey Institute, reveal that:

  • 66% of porn users view it for 5 hours or less a month.
  • Another 16% of porn users view it for less than 15 hours a month.
  • 6% use it for more than 26 hours a month and 3% use it for more than 50 hours per month.

One research study identified associations among pornography acceptance/use, emerging adults’ risky sexual attitudes and behaviors, substance use patterns, and non-marital co-habitation values.

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Brain Chemicals And Porn: How Porn Affects Your Brain

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

What does porn do to your brain? Can porn change or damage your brain in any measurable way? What are the psychological effects of watching too much porn? Theres a lot of information out there, so weve condensed it into this handy reference.

Whats The Harm Of Porn

Part 4: Dopamine: The Molecule of Addiction | Your Brain on Porn | Animated Series

Modern studies of the brain on porn are undoubtedly headline-grabbing and provocative. But this is not the first time that scientists have scrutinised pornography and the ways it could impact the human condition.

In the 1970s, there was widespread concern that porn was contributing to sexist attitudes, ultimately leading to a rise in violent assaults. The fears were understandable. But have scientific studies been able to turn up any evidence?

The academic aim was to take radical feminist ideas and put them into testable hypotheses, says psychologist Prof Neil Malamuth of the University of California Los Angeles. I wanted to find the characteristics of men who were more likely to be aggressive towards women porn was just one factor among many.

A meta-analysis a study of studies published by Malamuth in 2009 found that hundreds of papers from the 1980s to 2008 were fairly consistent in linking high rates of porn viewing with violent ideas and behaviour. But heres the caveat: not all men respond to porn in the same way.

For most men, consuming porn will not cause them to view women differently. But in those who already are predisposed to hold sexist views or to behave in an aggressive fashion, porn can exacerbate pre-existing and dangerous propensities. In this way, its just like any other drug.

Alcohol, for example, is in many ways comparable to porn because it is ubiquitous, socially acceptable and legal.

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Viewing Pornography At A Young Age Can Be Damaging

The risk of becoming addicted to pornography is higher for teenagers as the reward centers in their brains respond 2-4 times more strongly than those of adult brains. According to Psychology Today, teenagers who are exposed to sexual content are more likely to have sex at a younger age, and early exposure to pornography is a risk factor for sex addictions and other intimacy disorders.

Viewing Pornography Tricks Your Brain

There is an area in your brain known as the reward center that helps form habits. It releases chemicals, including dopamine, which establish connections between actions and the perceived desirability of that action. Dopamine is known as a pleasure chemical it creates a link between certain habits and a reward. Activities like exercise, eating, and sex all trigger reactions in this part of the brain.

With pornography, however, the brain responds differently than it does with run of the mill stimulation, like a sugary snack or a simple game. For most daily behaviors, the brain has an off switch that stops the release of dopamine once a craving has been satisfied.

In contrast, pornography impacts the brain much like an addictive drug by triggering ever-increasing amounts of dopamine. Over time, the brain builds up a tolerance to the excess dopamine and requires either more access or more extreme content to achieve that same level of perceived pleasure.

Research from a Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction report indicates that extended exposure to pornography correlates with less activity in the brains reward circuit.

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How Porn Can Change The Brain

Because of neuroplasticity, our brains constantly change in healthy ways that help us learn and complete tasks more efficiently. Yet, supernormal stimuli such as porn can trigger measurable changes that can influence our lives in unhealthy ways.

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Weve all heard the phrase: Its just like riding a bike. That phrase is supposed to remind us that our old skills are never more than a few minutes of practice away. And indeed, if youve ever geared up for a ride after many bike-less years, or picked up an old musical instrument, you know that beneath all of the awkwardness and rust, your old skills are waiting there, locked in your so-called muscle memory, waiting to be dusted off and taken for a spin. But how does this actually work? Why can we pick up old skills after such relatively small amounts of practice?

It all stems from the brains remarkable ability to change itself, also known as neuroplasticity.Pace, S. . Acquiring Tastes through Online Activity: Neuroplasticity and the Flow Experiences of Web Users. M/C Journal, 17. https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.773COPY

The amazing plastic brain
Delta-FosB: the chemical with the catchy name

But what is a brain pathway, really? Is some little road crew clearing brush and blazing trails in your brain? Yeskind of.

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Supernormal?

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Porn Shrinks Your Brain

This Is Your Brain On Porn

Porn users brains are actually smaller than normal. Cambridge Neuropsychiatrist Valerie Voon was featured in the UK documentary Porn on the Brain. Her research demonstrates that the brains of habitual porn users show great similarity to the brains of alcoholics. A brain structure called the ventral striatum plays a significant role in the reward system of the brainthe pleasure pathways. It is the same part of the brain that lights up when an alcoholic sees a picture of a drink.² A German study found similar results.

Dr. William Struthers sounds a similar alarm, teaching that viewing pornography and masturbating actually weakens the region of our brain known as the cingulate cortexthe region that is responsible for moral and ethical decision making and willpower. This means feeling the compulsive need to look at porn.

It may lead someone to engage in increasingly risky behavior, such as looking at porn at work, consuming more extreme or even illegal porn, or acting out sexually in other wayssuch as visiting strip clubs or soliciting prostitutes.

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Porn Can Lead To Memory Loss

In some cases, porn may lead to memory loss. Sound crazy? One study concluded, hat pornography addiction may be associated with impaired recent verbal memory in juveniles.9 Another study looked more broadly at short-term memory with a group of 28 healthy individuals and came up with similar results.10

If youre hooked on porn, you may have the experience of looking up at the clock and realizing youve burned through a couple of hours looking at porn when you have other things you should be doing. The bottom line is, theres reason to believe that looking at porn may make it more difficult to retain the information you need for important tasks, whether youre in school or working.

Brain Chemicals And Porn Addiction: Science Shows How Porn Harms Us

Recent research is telling us a lot about the brain when it comes to watching porn.

Over a decade ago, Dr. Judith Reisman called porn an erototoxin, theorizing that the brain itself might be damaged while watching porn. She speculated that future brain studies would reveal that the surge of neurochemicals and hormones released when someone watches porn has measurably negative effects on the brain.

Recent studies are validating her theory about brain chemicals and porn addiction.

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This Is What Porn Does To Your Brain

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Figuring out the risk-to-benefit ratio of watching pornography may just top the ranks of controversial topics that scientists cant seem to completely agree on. But one things for sure: Americans like watching porn and lots of it.

According to the website Paint Bottle, 30 percent of all data transferred online is porn. In a 2015 infographic, the porn site detailed that 70 percent of men consume the content compared to 30 percent of women. And the number of people consuming porn is rapidly increasing every week, according to the site.

After lawmakers in Virginia recently proposed legislation that aims to implement greater restrictions on watching porn, Fox News talked to three psychologists to learn more about what scientists know and dont know about the potential health effects of its consumption.

How does porn affect the brain?

Studying porn and determining its health effects are tricky, experts say. Thats because several parties neurobiologists, psychologists, sociologists and others are weighing in on the topic, and their methodologies and study cohorts can vary vastly.

In their proposed legislation, Virginia lawmakers claim pornography is addictive, promotes normalization of rape, may lessen the desire to marry, and equates violence with sex, encourages group sex, risky sexual behavior and infidelity, among other effects.

Can you be addicted to porn?

Watching Porn Associated With Male Brain Shrinkage

Part 3: How does alcohol affect the brain?

Viewing porn shrinks the brain, reports the Daily Mail.

In a small study, MRI scans found that men who watched the most pornography had less grey matter complex brain tissue compared to men who watched the least.

It found a weak to moderate correlation between the number of hours of porn viewed a week and smaller and less active areas of the brain associated with reward and sexual stimulation in men.

The higher the number of hours of porn watched, the smaller the volume of grey matter and brain signalling.

In essence, the researchers thought this might be a sign porn users may be dampening down the sexual stimulation and reward centres in their brain through over stimulation.

However, one of the big issues with studies like this is that you cant tell cause and effect. This could point to a somewhat unusual chicken and egg situation. It could be the case that men with weaker, smaller and less active areas of the brain crave greater stimulation so they are more likely to watch more porn.

In conclusion, this study does not provide any convincing evidence that viewing porn shrinks the brain, but tentatively highlights a possibility that it might.

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