PORN MAKES YOUR BRAIN SMALLER?

Porn could affect men’s brain size, German research hints

WASHINGTON – Researchers have found less gray matter in the brains of men who perused large amounts of sexually explicit material.

The research, which appeared Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, could not determine if pornography actually caused the brain to shrink, however, and the authors called for additional studies.

“Future studies should investigate the effects of pornography longitudinally or expose naive participants to pornography and investigate the causal effects over time,” said researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

The institute recruited 64 male subjects ages 21 to 45, “with a broad range of pornography consumption.”

The men were not told initially that the research was monitoring their brains on porn, rather that it was “a scientific study including MRI measurements”. They were told during a later phone interview that questions about pornography would be part of the research.

None of the men dropped out.

In an initial survey, the described how much porn they watched. Their responses averaged a little more than four hours per week. Their brains were then scanned with MRI technology while they were shown sexually explicit images from porn websites, along with nonsexual images of people exercising.

“Our findings indicated that gray matter volume of the right caudate of the striatum is smaller with higher pornography use,” said the study. When sexually explicit material was shown, the MRIs showed diminished function in a part of the brain that processes motivation.

But were men with smaller striatums seeking more porn, or did more porn make the brain smaller? Was it a consequence, or a precondition?

“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 further research into the matter is urgently required.

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