Watching Porn May Shut Down Part of Brain, New Study Suggests

Sexually explicit films shut down the part in women’s brain’s that process visual stimuli.

The researchers have found out that watching pornographic films can actually shut down the part of the brain that processes visual stimuli. In women, at least. Photo: Breno Peck/Flickr

Researchers from the University of Groningen Medical Centre in the Netherlands examined the primary visual cortexes of 12 healthy heterosexual premenopausal women while showing them porn.

According to The Daily Mail, the women involved into the stusy were all on hormonal birth control which smoothed out any changes in sexual desire or arousal related to their menstrual cycles.

While checking the participants’ brains using positron emission tomography, the researchers showed them three videos.

The first one was a documentary video that showed marine life in the Caribbean, while the other two were ‘women-friendly’ pornographic films.

One showed only foreplay and manual stimulation, while the other showed explicit scenes of oral sex and vaginal intercourse.

The Huff Post claims that previous studies had shown that the higher-intensity video showing intercourse produced stronger physical arousal in women than the foreplay-focused movie clip.

Having examined the scans the researchers found that the most explicit erotic film – the one which featured oral sex and intercourse – resulted in far less blood being sent to the primary visual cortex.

The same effect can be reached when people are asked to conduct a non-visual task, like remembering words, while also watching some sort of visual stimuli.

Uroneurologist Gert Holstege suggested the brain was focusing more on sexual arousal than visual processing during the film.

“If you look, for example, at your computer and you have to write something or whatever, then you have to look specifically and carefully at what you’re doing because if you don’t, it means you make mistakes,” the scientist explained.

“But the moment you are watching explicit sexual movies, that’s not necessary, because you know exactly what’s going on. It’s not important that the door is green or yellow.”

He kept on talking: “You have to realize that the brain wants to spare as much energy as possible, so if some part of the brain is not necessary at a high level of functioning, it immediately goes down.”

The scientist tried to link the results to previous research which shows the brain can be anxious or aroused, but not both.

The fact that during orgasm activity in brain regions associated with anxiety falls sharply may explain why women with low libido often suffer from anxiety.

One of those regions associated with anxiety is the visual cortex – if you are looking around, scanning for danger, it may be more difficult to focus on arousal.

“If you yourself are in a very dangerous situation, whatever the reason, you don’t have sexual feelings, because you have to survive for yourself, not survive for the species,” the doctor said.

Dr Holstege suggested that the findings may have a practical use in treating sexual disfunction.”If you want to have sex, as a man, you need to produce a safe situation for the woman,” Holstege said. “That is what you want, that is the most important thing.”

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