How Viewing Porn Addiction Impacts The Brain
1. ;When we experience highly arousing stimuli such as porn, the dopamine level in our brains spike. This is novel to our brain and what has been named the Coolidge effect begins. We are wired to feel drawn to this new and exciting experience.
Pleasure neurochemicals in the brain respond as we continue to engage the stimulus and we can over stimulate ourselves. This is when we go beyond normal pleasure activation and the neurochemicals can start damaging patterns.
2. ;Once this overstimulation is maintained our brain adapts to find a level of tolerance. What was once an overstimulation then becomes the new normal. The brain starts to produce less of the pleasurable neurochemicals in response to the same stimulus, so more of a stimulus is needed to recreate the old pleasure sensation.
When we dont receive the stimulus we wanted, cravings ensue and then behavior can escalate to compensate.
3. ;A third brain change is desensitization. Once the brains normal reward system is bombarded with high levels of dopamine it starts to shut down. The dopamine receiving neurons shut down their receptors to protect against overstimulation, but the sending neuron keeps sending!
The result is a depletion of dopamine, and also a non-response to dopamine. When this occurs you feel lousy; it is hard to feel pleasure! Unfortunately the one thing that can release the extra dopamine so that you can feel ok is the escalated use of porn. The brain now has an inbuilt trap.
How Important Is Sex Part 2
This study has been criticized, but overwhelmingly, these criticisms are unfounded:
- There was no “control group.’ In fact, this study used a “within-subjects” design, in which the subjects themselves were their own control group. This is a methodologically-rigorous, well-accepted design.
- Results of analyses which were not significant were not described in the publication. This is a common scientific practice, and the authors are usually willing to share the results of these analyses, at request.
- This study used very good scientific method, in creating a study to test the “theory” that porn use works “like” a drug addiction. This is how good science works, by testing theories.
- Because there is no accepted definition or criteria for sex/porn addiction, the study used multiple commonly-used assessments strategies for sex addiction.
- The use of EEG technology is an accepted method, extensively used in addiction research, and allowed a valid, useful comparison of these results to the existing research on drug and alcohol addictions. The P300 results cited in the study are internally and externally consistent with their own findings, and with prior literature, and are supportive of the interpretation that the subjects showed a neural response based on libido and sexual arousal, NOT demonstrating changes to the brain that are indicative of an addictive response.
Is It Really True That Watching Porn Will Shrink Your Brain
A hundred years ago they said that masturbating would make you go blind. We’ve progressed. Today, we’re told that watching moderate amounts of pornography will shrink your brain. The claim arrives courtesy of a brain imaging paper published last month in JAMA Psychiatry, a respected medical journal.
Among the global hyperbolic headlines that followed, my favourite was from a German site: “Pea brain: watching porn online will wear out your brain and make it shrivel.” Others included “Viewing porn shrinks the brain” and Watching Porn Linked To Less Gray Matter In The Brain .
The study that triggered all this concern was published by a German pair: Simone KÃ¼hn, a psychologist, and JÃ¼rgen Gallinat, a psychiatrist. They scanned the brains of 64 healthy men in three ways. Note the word healthy. In fact, all the men who participated were free from any psychiatric or neurological disorders. So if they had shrunken brains , it wasn’t causing them any major problems.
So, does watching porn shrink your brain? The researchers think it probably does. “One may be tempted,” they wrote “to assume that the frequent brain activation caused by pornography exposure might lead to wearing and down regulation of the underlying brain structure, as well as function …”.
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Desensitization Habituation And Boredom
Prolonged use of pornography produces habituation,2) boredom, and sexual dissatisfaction among female and male viewers,3) and is associated with more lenient views of extramarital sexual relations and recreational attitudes toward sex.4) A 2000 study of college freshmen found that the habitual use of pornography led to greater tolerance of sexually explicit material, thus requiring more novel and bizarre material to achieve the same level of arousal or interest.5) For example, habituation may lead to watching depictions of group sex, sadomasochistic practices, and sexual contact with animals,6) engaging in anal intercourse,7) and trivializing nonviolent forms of the sexual abuse of children.8)
The pornography industry adapted to this desire for more bizarre and uncommon images. An analysis of the content of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler from the years 1953 to 1984 revealed 6,004 child images and an additional 14,854 images depicting crime or violence. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of the child images were sexual and violent, with most of the images displaying girls between the ages of three and eleven years of age. Each of these magazines portrayed the scenes involving children as though the child had been unharmed by the sexual scene or even benefited from it.9)
What Did The Research Involve
The study recruited 64 healthy men between the ages of 21 and 45 years and asked them questions about their porn viewing habits.
They also took images of the mens brains to determine the size of different areas and investigated how their brain signalling reacted to pornographic pictures using brain scans.;
Two questions were used to estimate and categorise porn consumption across a full week:
- How many hours on average do you spend watching pornographic material during a weekday?
- How many hours on average do you spend watching pornographic material during a day of the weekend?
Additional questionnaires assessed other factors the researches thought might influence the results, including:
- sexual use of the internet
- sexual addiction
- substance use
The study only recruited men, the rationale given by the researchers was that men are exposed to pornography at a younger age, consume more pornography, and are more likely to encounter problems related to it compared with women. This seems like a reasonable assumption based on what we know about pornography consumption.
Those with abnormal brain scans were also excluded from the study, as were those with medical or neurological disorders.
The main statistical analysis looked for links between weekly measure of porn consumption and the volume and function of specific areas of the brain.
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This Is What Porn Does To Your Brain
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?
Icipate In The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
In a 2013 TED talk Insight into the teenage Brain, Adriana Galvan stated that the prefrontal cortex of the brain changes every day until a person is in their mid-20s. Everything that is viewed, everything that is experienced is taken into consideration and part of the makeup.
Teens and adults were part of a lab study in which they were fed sugar through a straw during an MRI. The teen brain, Galvan said, was much more excitable to sugar. A second test group of teens and adults was brought in and this group was shown images of money. Once again the teens were more excitable.
That tells us something about the teenage brain, Galvan said. The teen brain is very responsive to environment.
The teen brain gets really excited about rewards, emotions and new experiences. It is constantly changing right now and it gives teens permissions to be teens, Galvan added.
Andrews stopped the tape and told attendees that any time humor can be used to address a situation it can help diffuse tension and blame.
She then said what many parents already know: that children can stumble onto porn sites without ever having that intention.
Boys will be boys
There is hope
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Functional Brain Signalling In Reaction To Pornographic Images
From this set of experiments the researchers found the men reporting more porn consumption had less brain signalling within the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the brain implicating, the researchers say, that participants who consumed more pornographic material had less connectivity between the right caudate and left DLPFC.
They also implicated an area of the brain called the left putamen as involved in processing sexual content.
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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Where Did The Story Come From
The study was carried out by researchers from the Center for Lifespan Psychology in Berlin, Germany and was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research . The study was published in the;peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Generally, the media reported the story accurately, although the Mails actual reporting of the study was accurate, its headline that viewing porn shrinks the brain was overly certain as no cause and effect relationship was proven.
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.
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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Psychological Effects Of Porn Use
Whereas porn can be used in ways that are beneficial to sexual health, approximately 9% of viewers indicate that they are unable to refrain from viewing pornography. Problematic internet pornography use can lead to and exacerbate existing psychological issues with which the user may be struggling. There is a fair amount of research that substantiates the idea that problematic pornography use correlates with psychological problems such as depression and anxiety:
- More than half of men who use porn have acknowledged that their porn use has caused them problems in life, with the majority experiencing psychological and behavioral repercussions.
- Compulsive and at-risk cybersex users experience guilt, depression, and anxiety. This may both result from pornography usage and perpetuate further behavior.
- Personal factors such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, or interpersonal stress may contribute to the ease of conditioning to a pleasurable experience like porn as the behavior alters a negative mood.
Additionally, a growing body of research exists that supports the argument for a correlation between internet pornography use and impulsive behaviors. Initial findings suggest that impulsiveness extends to all internet pornography users and not only to problematic use.
What Effects Does Porn Have On My Brain
I have heard a large number of people say something like, It does matter if I look at porn, it is my choice and it doesnt affect anyone. This comment often reflects an addicts inability to see outside of themselves, and even if you find yourself saying the same thing, I want to show you why porn addiction harms youit harms your brain!
If you imagine a normal electrical circuit, it has a limited electrical capacity, and just like the movies if you exceed this capacity by overloading the circuit a meltdown occurs! Fires breakout and significant damage is done.
A similar thing happens to a brain flooded by pornography. Except because of the brains adaptive ability, when it becomes overloaded by dopamine it alters how it is wired. This ultimately rewrites how pleasure is perceived.
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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.
How Porn Affects Your Brain
Your brain is amazing.
Weighing in at three pounds, your brain contains roughly 90 billion nerve cellscalled neuronswith trillions of cell connectionscalled synapses. When connected together, these synapses form back roads, highways, and superhighways in your brain that signals travel along.
Brain scientists used to think the brain was like a fixed machinethat it couldnt be changed. However, we now know that the brain has the ability to change continuously throughout an individuals lifetime. This is referred to as neuroplasticity. In fact, your brain changes every time you think.
Consider how you would learn to play the guitar. As you play the G chord, your brain sends a signal to your fingers telling them what to do. As that signal moves from neuron to neuron, those activated nerve cells form connections. Neuroscientists like to say, Neurons that fire together, wire together. As a result, these newly connected neurons form pathways.
Furthermore, you can think of a neurological pathway like a path in the woods. Every time someone walks the path, it gets more established. Similarly, every time a signal travels down a pathway of neurons, the pathway gets more established.
Its because of this biological phenomenon that you have the ability to pick up a guitar after years of practice and are able to play with very little effort.
Now consider how years of prolonged exposure to watching pornography affects your brain.
Dont lose heart. There is good news.
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