Wednesday, May 18, 2022

What Does Porn Do To The Brain

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Porn And The Way We See Men Versus Women

Part 2: The Coolidge Effect | Your Brain on Porn | Animated Series

Whats more concerning to me is how our brains actually process sexual images and what this means for much bigger societal issues. For example, one fascinating and frightening study found that when we look at sexual images of women, we see objects, not people.

Let me explain: Our brains automatically recognize people differently than we recognize objects. They use a process called configural processing as a shortcut to help us readily see people, and even to be biased toward seeing people. This is why sometimes you cant help but see faces where there are none, like in the burn patterns on a piece of toast.

One fascinating and frightening study found that when we look at sexual images of women, we see objects, not people. Does this bias translate to how we consciously or unconsciously treat women in real life?

Upside down images of people are more difficult for the brain to recognize because the spatial relations arent right. So, its easier for configural processing to fail when the person is upside down. In the study, researchers showed people upside-down and right-side-up images of sexy men and women posing in lingerie and took note of peoples configural processing shortcuts. As expected, right-side-up men were processed as people, but upside-down men were often processed as objects.

Watching Porn Associated With Male Brain Shrinkage

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.

Porn Often Intensifies Shame

At Covenant Eyes, we often refer to the shame cycle. People trying to quit porn often feel a deep sense of shame that can drive them into relapse and further emotional bondage. The negative feelings associated with porn, rather than giving them the motivation to quit, often contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

A recent independent study had similar findings. A group of men surveyed reported feelings of shame regarding their porn use. They also reported feelings of shame related to the way porn had affected their sexual preferences.8

Pastor, counselor, and research Jay Stringer has found a strong connection between porn and shame, For those of us who have struggled with pornography, shame is an all-too-familiar companion. Shame can be both a result of looking at porn, particularly for those whose moral belief system says porn is wrong, and a trigger for further porn consumption.

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Pornography Addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective

A significant postulate of this commentary is that all addictions create, in addition to chemical changes in the brain, anatomical and pathological changes which result in various manifestations of cerebral dysfunction collectively labeled hypofrontal syndromes. In these syndromes, the underlying defect, reduced to its simplest description, is damage to the braking system of the brain. They are well known to clinical neuroscientists, especially neurologists and neurosurgeons, for they are also seen with tumors, strokes, and trauma. Indeed, anatomically, loss of these frontal control systems is most apparent following trauma, exemplified by progressive atrophy of the frontal lobes seen in serial MRI scans over time.

Although the key elements of hypofrontal syndromesimpulsivity, compulsivity, emotional lability, impaired judgmentare well described, much of the process is still unknown. One emerging aspect of these hypofrontal states is their similarity to findings in addictive patients. Addressing hypofrontality, Fowler et al. noted, studies of addicts show reduced cellular activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain areato make strategic, rather than impulsive, decisions. Patients with traumatic injuries to this area of the brain display problemsaggressiveness, poor judgment of future consequences, inability to inhibit inappropriate responses that are similar to those observed in substance abusers. .

Viewing Pornography Rewires Your Brain

This Is Your Brain On Porn  Awareness Act

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.

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Pornography And Your Brain

So what happens in your brain when you, your husband, child, significant other, best friend, or anyone else uses pornography?

To start, lets just state plainly that sexual activity produces large amounts of dopamine. Our bodies are simply wired that way. Sex, masturbation and viewing pornography will ALL cause our brains to produce dopamine, and ultimately crave more of it.

We can become addicted to pornography for precisely that reason. Regular use of pornography will eventually lead to a craving for the dopamine that comes from using it.

The real issue with pornography and dopamine is that pornography is so accessible thanks to the internet. To understand this we must consider the Coolidge Effect, which states that over time, sexual desire will decrease with a single mate and increase with a new one. According to this theory, sexual desire increases from a newness factor.

Now, bring pornography into the equation. We have an affinity to want new things because they produce more dopaminemore excitementand with pornography the options for new people is endless. John Mayer actually commented on this, saying:

There have probably been days when I saw 300 before I got out of bed.Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generations expectations.Youre looking for the one photo out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still dont finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back

Porn Addiction Trains You To Have Immediate Gratification And Have A Difficult Time Lasting Long

With porn, when youre aroused you reach orgasm very quickly, because porn users tend to masturbate at the same time. Thus, orgasm tends to be very fast. The porn user hasnt trained his body to draw out sex so that his spouse can get pleasure his body is programmed to orgasm quickly. Many porn users, then, suffer from premature ejaculation.

Some porn users go to the other extreme when they start suffering from erectile dysfunction. They have a difficult time remaining hard enough during sex because the stimulation isnt enough. In their case, orgasm can take an eternity, if its possible at all.

While both seem like polar opposites, the simple fact is that sexual dysfunction of some sort is one of the big negative effects of pornography.

God made sex to actually unite us and draw us together.

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Pornography The Brain And Bonding

    I loved science as a kid. Each discovery of how the world worked brought so much joy. The human brain was, and still is, especially fascinating to me. Looking back, I wish someone had explained the biological influence of pornography on my brain when I was younger.

    Dont worry. This article is not technical or, well, brainy. Im not a scientist. Im a pastor who struggled with pornography for a long time and found help, healing and freedom. In the process, I fell in love with science all over again because it reveals how God designed the brain for lifelong monogamy.

    God created the brain to bond deeply, intimately and sexually with one person: a spouse. We know this is true biblically, but brain science actually proves this truth through biology.

    At the moment of sexual climax with a spouse, the human brain releases powerful chemicals that wash over it and reinforce the thought, I belong with this person. When this same pattern is repeated in an exclusive relationship, the bond becomes cemented and enhanced. Picture a pathway becoming a road and, ultimately, a superhighway. The brain actually begins to need less of the same stimulus to achieve the same experience. Additionally, these chemicals leave us with a deep, abiding sense of satisfaction.

    Hormone And Chemical Release

    The Neuroscience of NoFap | Why Pornography Changes the Brain

    Research shows that masturbation, as well as other sexual activities leading to sexual pleasure or orgasm, trigger the release of hormones and chemicals involved in the brains pleasure-reward center. These include:

    Dopamine: Known as the happiness hormone, dopamine is an important neurotransmitter involved in motivation, movement, and reward-seeking.

    Oxytocin: The love hormone oxytocin has a wide range of behavioral and physiological effects, such as promoting sexual, social, and maternal behaviors associated with happiness. The hormone also helps support well-being, positive social interaction, growth, and healing.

    Serotonin: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps mediate happiness , optimism, and satisfaction. There is also a link between higher serotonin levels and an increase in mood.

    Endorphins: Endorphins are known as feel-good chemicals that reduce pain better than morphine. They are responsible for the pleasurable rush or high associated with exercise.

    Prolactin: Prolactin is a hormone that physiological responses to reproduction, stress management, and emotional regulation.

    Endocannabinoids: These neurotransmitters are help regulate processes such as pain, inflammation, metabolism, cardiovascular function, learning and memory, anxiety, depression, and addiction.

    Norepinephrine/noradrenalin: This is a stimulating neurotransmitter that increases and regulates dopamine transmission, a substance linked to levels of happiness.

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    Porn May Increase Anxiety Or Depression

    At Covenant Eyes, we speak with people every day who are experiencing depression and anxiety related to porn. Research has found a correlation between watching porn and anxiety and depression, particularly those who want to stop watching porn but cant. One study of university students indicated a strong connection between compulsive porn use and anxiety.4

    Some experts are dubious about the connection between porn and depression or anxiety. Nonetheless, they acknowledge that porn can affect relationships, which in turn can result in depression or anxiety.5

    How Porn Hijacks The Brain

    Multiple problems happen when porn is used. First, instead of forming a deep connection to a person, your brain ends up bonding to a pornographic experience. Your brain remembers where the sexual high was experienced, and each time you desire sexual stimulation, you feel a sharp sense of focus: Ive got to go back to the porn.

    In addition, pornography gives the brain an unnatural high. In a recent TEDx talk, physiology teacher Gary Wilson explained that when men look at porn, they experience surge after surge of dopamine in the brain. The brain eventually fatigues, stopping the production of dopamine, leaving the viewer wanting more but unable to reach a level of satisfaction. As a result, everyday pleasures stop causing excitement and the viewer seeks out more novel, more intense pornography to get the same high as before.

    This imbalance in the brain leads to many problems: impotence with your spouse, frequent masturbation with very little satisfaction, anxiety, fatigue, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate, and escalating tastes for more bizarre or novel porn.

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    The Great Cultural Lie

    I was fooled. Our culture tells us, Its just porn. Its no big deal. Im physically committed to my spouse, and thats what matters. But with every diversion from Gods plan, a little more of our mind, and our souls, bonds to something apart from our spouse.

    After a year addressing my pornography struggles and walking through a recovery process, my wife and I found a new level of health in our marriage. My wife became pregnant with our fourth child, and I realized how much my brain had rewired itself. Though my wife gained the expected pregnancy weight, she had never looked more beautiful to me. I was more attracted to her than I had been during the previous pregnancies. My brain had reorganized itself to find beauty in the way God had intended, not in mere physical appearance but in the heart, mind and soul of my wife.

    There is no comprehensive definition of beauty. In the eye of the beholder is a true statement and begs the question: What are you setting before your eyes? Because what we see informs our definition of beauty and promotes our physical responses, including sexual attraction.

    Whats The Harm Of Porn

    Take a Pass on Porn. Seriously.  Theology of the Body ...

    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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    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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    Related:How Porn Can Harm Consumers Sex Lives

    Need help?
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    Is Porn Good For You

    But can watching porn actually be beneficial to certain people? Prause thinks so. There is as much of a case to be made for the benefits as well as the harms, she says. For example, porn can introduce viewers to new activities that can spice things up in the bedroom.

    There is good evidence for mimicry, so we have good evidence that sometimes viewing porn can increase peoples tendency to perform oral sex. Erotica can have positive and negative effects, its about identifying for whom, and when.

    The field is riddled with misconceptions and biases that are not supported by the data, she says.

    Despite concerns that porn can decrease libido and lead to impotence due to tolerance and desensitisation, research published by Prause in the journal Sexual Medicine in 2015 shows these worries to be unfounded.

    Similarly, it is accepted as gospel truth that rates of pornography viewing have increased dramatically with the rise of the internet, allowing for instant access to a huge diversity of images at home. But in fact, Prause says, statistics indicate that the number of people viewing pornography overall hasnt changed since the introduction of the VCR.

    Although Prause disagrees with the conclusions of other researchers such as Malamuth, she does agree along with just about every other sex researcher that porn can be dangerous for some men because it can reinforce pre-existing misogynistic beliefs and myths.

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