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Stats Entertainment Science

Study Finds Porn Exposure Associated With Smaller Brain Region 211

Posted by timothy
from the news-for-nerds dept.
New submitter Bodhammer (559311) writes "German researchers looked at the brains of 64 men between the ages of 21 and 45 and found that one brain region (the striatum, linked to reward processing), was smaller in the brains of porn watchers, and that a specific part of the same region is also less activated when exposed to more pornography." While it's tempting to cast blame, "the study doesn't confirm whether watching porn causes the changes, or whether people with a certain brain type are inherently more apt to tune into X-rated content." The study's abstract is available; the paper itself is pay-walled.
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Study Finds Porn Exposure Associated With Smaller Brain Region

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday June 01, 2014 @05:55PM (#47143231) Journal
    Where did they find them?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:20PM (#47143385)

    Somehow I'd bet the brain area in question is larger in compulsive liars, regardless of the exposure to adult entertainment.

  • by kesuki (321456) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:23PM (#47143409) Journal

    "Where did they find them?"

    after the teenage burst, its really easy to quit porn. when i was a teen porn there was no such thing as too much porn, but the older i got the less interested in it i was. i think my record is 3 years no porn and of course no masturbation. but then again i am not typical and haven't even had sex, despite being 36 years old. and yes i am still living in my parents basement. but i pay rent to them they needed the extra income and they are getting older and it is good to see them once in a while.

  • by CanadianRealist (1258974) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:39PM (#47143471)

    As someone with a long history of depression and high intelligence I've spent quite a bit of time trying to understand my condition. One thing I've noted frequently is that I tend to derive less enjoyment than other people from most activities. (I think this is a cause of the depression rather than a result of it.) The most notable exception is sexual gratification, whether from sex with a partner or from masturbation. I don't find this surprising as I think that it is such a basic part of the way our brains are wired. Given that I am not in a relationship more often than I am, I frequently watch porn to masturbate.

    So in my case, I'd say it seems likely that a deficiency in the part of the brain associated with reward processing causes a greater exposure to porn.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:41PM (#47143485)

    in exchange for instant gratification of a primal nature?
    Almost certainly.

    Hahaha. But don't assume. OP left out something that is important to keep in mind here: most people in modern society watch pornography to some extent. They even admit to it in polls (which means the polls probably don't count everybody who really does).

    Putting 2 and 2 together, that means that the people with the larger brain region are the abnormal ones. You should be asking what THEY "give up" in exchange for this deviance (from the norm, that is).

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday June 02, 2014 @05:36AM (#47145459) Journal

    Though not while doing brain scans (they were fMRI ing the abdominal area)

    Quite likely because orgasams are not created in the brain, they happen in a small bundle of neurons at the base of the spine, in fact a fresh corpse is capable of orgasam if the area is stimulated with a mild electric current. Further if you wire this up in a live rat so all it has to do is pull a lever to get an orgasm, it will hang off the lever until it dies of dehydration.

    As to TFA, if video porn is shrinking your brain, what is a good sex life doing to it? Seriously, if you have a healthy sex life then watching porn together is quite often a part of that. Also watching porm does not imply that you like ALL porn anymore than watching a cartoon means you like all cartoons. Males are much more likely to enjoy porn because males are (in general) are much more sensitive to visual stimulation. Also a faie chunk of the porn out there is not catering to sexual desire, it's catering to the desire for power (SM), or catering to catholic style guilt, ie people who revel in being "dirty" (ATM).

    To paraphrase Sagan, Science is more than a grab-bag of factoids, it's a philosophy, a way of thinking. I have no doubt these people carefully observed something interesting, but it seems to me they have prematurely jumped on the conclusion mat that best fits their worldview. OTOH it does generate way more questions than it answers, and according to Natural philosophy [wikipedia.org], that's a GoodThing(TM)

  • by jandersen (462034) on Monday June 02, 2014 @06:50AM (#47145615)

    Porn is not really an easily defined term.

    I would tend to disagree - and you hint at the definition yourself: "...it was immediately clear that it wasn't great writing. It was just 1800's porn." I think one of the things that make up porn is the fact that it is void of anything worthwhile, unless you appreciate its one selling point. In fact, you can extend the definition of porn to a lot of other products that use media to deliver this kind of monotonous, narrowly focused form without content. Like computer games that are all gore and no story, or tv channels that are nothing more than outlets for selling cheap crap. And quite possibly certain items of modern art, altough I admit the failing in this case may be due to my lack of sensitivity.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:04AM (#47146359)

    Consider another well-known disease that involves a missing compound needed for metabolism - diabetes. Supplying insulin helps a diabetic patient, but doesn't "cure" the disease.

    It certainly seems plausible that by identifying people who lack the enzyme and either a) providing the enzyme or b) warning them of the problem, many cases could be avoided. People who lack the enzyme but abstain from alcohol seem to be okay generally, so that would seem a reasonable strategy. However, digestion of food creates alcohol, so that's an area where further study may be needed.

    The other thing is, once you take care of the enzyme in an active alcoholic, you're left with just a regular drug addict - alcohol is a drug, of course. You've treated the thing that makes alcohol addicts different from other addicts, but they're still an addict. We know also that alcoholism includes some positive feedback cycles. People often have a drink when negative events happens in their lives. When they drink excessively, that causes more negative events. The alcoholic typically ends up in a cycle of dependency. Indeed, it seems that many people identified as alcoholic have only the psychological dependance and are not lacking the indicated enzyme. Enzyme therapy therefore wouldn't be expected to work in these "type II" drinkers. It may turn "type I" (enzymatic alcoholics) into type II (psychologically dependent), but that doesn't seem to be a huge win. Enzyme therapy would probably need to be combined with treatment for the psychological side as well

    Looking at it another way, there are two primary issues with alcoholics. A) when they drink, they can't stop and B) they start drinking, even given the knowledge of B. Treating A doesn't fix the odd metal obsession that we see manifested in B.

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