How does pornography affect the brain?

Emerging research and literature on the impact of pornography on the brain, is both enlightening and frightening.

One can no longer deny that the brain is deeply affected during pornography use, some more detrimentally than others.  The question often debated is Can one become addicted to pornography?

Simply stated, if the urge to watching pornography is continual, becomes habitual and all-consuming, one has to understand that there is activity in the brain that is causing this compulsion. Because of neuroplasticity, our brains are constantly changing either in a healthy way that help us learn and develop into well-functioning beings, or in unhealthy ways when supernormal stimuli such as pornography triggers measurable changes that can negatively impact our lives.  Of course the younger the viewer the more at risk they are of developing an addiction.

The role of Dopamine and its impact on the reward centre while watching and masturbating to pornography is under ongoing scientific research and the results are resoundingly indicating that Pornography addicted brains are comparable to heroin addicted brains.  The effect on gray matter is startling – that of the pornography addict is shrinking!.

There are many sound research studies some of which you will find in the links, many of which are startling.  For example and to quote this study conducted by Dr Valerie Voon from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge who found that the “compulsive sexual behavior participants .. showed a reduced level of connectivity between the left amygdala and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain which is heavily implemented in inhibitory control. Interestingly, this area of the brain is known to have a long maturation period that stretches into adulthood, and it may be particularly susceptible to disruption during maturing years in adolescence.”

Of the 38 neurological studies (including fMRI, Neuropsych, EEG) on compulsive or addicted porn consumers, almost half have reported altered prefrontal cortex activity or poorer executive functioning (also known as “hypofrontality”).

 

“..this isn’t about politics, religious shame or sexual freedom.  This is about the nature of our brains and how they respond to cues from radically changed environment.  This is about chronic overconsumption of sexual novelty, delivered on demand in endless supply”  Gary Wilson (Your Brain on Porn)