Porn is Literally Shrinking Men’s Brains, According to a New German Study

Researchers claim that men who watch sexually explicit videos regularly tend to have less gray matter in brain.

The study looked at a small sample of men and is the first to establish a link between the size of the brain and the effects of watching porn. Photo: Hey Paul Studios/ Flickr

The study looked at a small sample of men and is the first to establish a link between the size of the brain and the effects of watching porn. Photo: Hey Paul Studios/ Flickr

The research conducted by scientists from Max Planck Institute in Berlin showed that men who watch a lot of sexually explicit material tend to have less volume and activity in regions of the brain linked to rewards and motivation.

Researchers interviewed 64 healthy men aged 21 to 45 about their porn watching habits, as well the reaction of their brain to pornographic images and scanned their brains with MRI technology in order to measure volume.

“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,” said Simone Kühn, the study’s lead author.

“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.

However, Kühn claims that it’s still unclear whether watching porn results in brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn.

“Unfortunately we cannot answer this question based on the results of the present study,” said the researcher.

The study also found that the connection between the striatum and the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain associated with behavior and decision making – degraded with increased porn watching.

“Individuals with lower striatum volume may need more external stimulation to experience pleasure and might therefore experience pornography consumption as more rewarding, which may in turn lead to” more porn watching, said the authors, concluding that more study is needed.

The study cannot prove whether or not porn watching is actually harmful because they are not sure if it actually causes brain changes.

“Everything is going to be bad in excess and it’s probably not terrible in moderation,” Doctor Gregory Tau of the Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York told Reuters.

Tau, who was not involved with the study, agreed that more research should be done in this area and that longer studies would be need to find out if porn leads to brain changes.

“It is possible that there are individuals with a certain kind of brain that are more susceptible to these kinds of behaviors,” he said. “Or, it’s possible it’s the excessive use (of porn) that’s perpetuating itself to causing brain changes. Or, it could be both.”

However, poor brain activity is but one in a list of the potential dangers of porn. The psychiatrist Norman Doidge has reported that porn users may find it more difficult to become aroused by their real-life sexual partners; develop a “tolerance” to mainstream porn, causing them to turn to darker corners of the internet; and experience “potency problems”.

According to a University of East London survey, 97 per cent of boys and 80 per cent of girls between the ages of 16 and 20 have viewed pornography. In the United States, one in three women regularly indulge and 70 per cent of men between 18 and 24 visit pornographic websites at least once a month, says the Telegraph.

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