Porn Viewing Linked to Less Brain Grey Matter

A new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry utilized MRI brain scans of male pornography users and found that those with less brain grey matter were likely to watch more pornography.


The brain's "grey matter" undergoes development and growth throughout childhood and adolescence. It is associated with processing and cognition. Researchers found that those with less grey matter are likely to watch more pornography.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin conducted the first-ever study linking porn and a reduction in brain size and activity. The research consisted of 64 male participants who reported viewing hours of pornography on a weekly basis. Consumption of the sexually explicit content was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.

The study, "Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated with Pornography Consumption," was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The goal of the study was to "determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network," which include functions such as decision-making, memory, and attention.

Participants in the study watched four hours of pornography per week. The researchers scanned the men's brains using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology while showing them sexually explicit images from websites, along with non-sexual images. When showed the sexually explicit images, the men's MRIs revealed diminished function in the part of the brain responsible for motivation, suggesting a smaller amount of grey matter volume.

"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]," the authors concluded.

The researchers noted that further studies must be conducted in order to determine whether or not the lack of grey matter is a cause or effect of the porn consumption.

Source: Science World Report

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