Thursday, May 29, 2014

Your Brain on Porn

Too much of a good thing is bad. So is too little. This applies even to water. Drinking too much water, like drinking too little water,  is bad for you.

The questions is: How bad is how much?

The same applies to porn. In moderation, it is probably not a problem. Consumed excessively it might affect your brain… and not in a good way.

Then again, researchers are not sure whether people who suffer a certain brain affliction are driven to watch porn or whether porn-watching, in and of itself, changes the brain. Then again, it could be both.

In a world that is awash in porn, to say nothing of decadence, these questions are becoming more germane.

Reuters reports the latest research:

Men who report watching a lot of pornography tend to have less volume and activity in regions of the brain linked to rewards and motivation, says a new German study.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, can't say watching porn caused the decrease in brain matter and activity, however.

It's not clear, for example, whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn, said Simone Kühn, the study’s lead author from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in an email.

We do not know whether porn watching demotivates you and drains your… ambition… or whether people who are unmotivated and unambitious are more likely to watch more porn. Or both.

Either way, it does not look as though watching too much porn is doing anyone any good:

“We found that the volume of the so-called striatum, a brain region that has been associated with reward processing and motivated behavior was smaller the more pornography consumption the participants reported,” Kühn said.

“Moreover we found that another brain region, that is also part of the striatum that is active when people see sexual stimuli, shows less activation the more pornography participants consumed,” she added.

What’s more, the researchers found that the connection between the striatum and prefrontal cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain associated with behavior and decision making, worsened with increased porn watching.

Of course, Kuhn added, many other activities, like driving a taxi, are also linked to changes in the brain.


Let’s say that the question is still open. The research is just beginning. At a time when young people have more access to more porn than ever before in history, no one should remain indifferent to the consequences.

4 comments:

Sam L. said...

If a guy is interested in women, but can't afford to date, or can't get a date...porn is available, cheap, and can't transmit venereal diseases.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

There's no shortage of porn, and there's no shortage of escorts either.

Jack LaBear said...

Alcoholics and probably folks who self medicate with other substances have been found to have a genetic 'reward deficiency syndrome' where the brain has fewer receptors and activity in the reward pathway of the brain. So they don't get the same good feelings from everyday activities that most people do. They need extra stimulation to feel good.
Over activating the reward pathway will in turn down regulate that part of the brain. Hence tolerance and dependence. Probably the same thing is going on with the porn watchers.
As with many either-or questions, the correct answer, in this case nature or nurture, is both.

Y. said...


There's no shortage of porn, and there's no shortage of escorts either.

Highly disingenuous statement.

Whores are expensive. A low-status male could get sex perhaps twice per month most places on his disposable income.

Expensive whores are for people who're rich but can't be arsed having a partner.