We have the first study on the effects of porn on the brain

Submitted by gary on
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This is not a brain scan study, only a study measuring the effects of pornographic pictures on memory. 

Basics: Internet porn interferes with working memory, just as addiction-related cues interfere with working memory in addicts. First study to assess the effects of porn on the brain. We now need a study on the long-term effects of regular Internet porn use - which can only be assessed by users eliminating porn use.
 



Pornographic Picture Processing Interferes with Working Memory Performance.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23167900

Laier C, Schulte FP, Brand M.
J Sex Res. 2012 Nov 20

Department of General Psychology: Cognition , University of Duisburg-Essen.

Some individuals report problems during and after Internet sex engagement, such as missing sleep and forgetting appointments, which are associated with negative life consequences. One mechanism potentially leading to these kinds of problems is that sexual arousal during Internet sex might interfere with working memory (WM) capacity, resulting in a neglect of relevant environmental information and therefore disadvantageous decision making. In this study, 28 healthy individuals performed 4 experimental manipulations of a pictorial 4-back WM task with neutral, negative, positive, or pornographic stimuli. Participants also rated 100 pornographic pictures with respect to sexual arousal and indicated masturbation urges previous to and following pornographic picture presentation. Results revealed worse WM performance in the pornographic picture condition of the 4-back task compared with the three remaining picture conditions. Furthermore, hierarchical regression analysis indicated an explanation of variance of the sensitivity in the pornographic picture condition by the subjective rating of the pornographic pictures as well as by a moderation effect of masturbation urges. Results contribute to the view that indicators of sexual arousal due to pornographic picture processing interfere with WM performance. Findings are discussed with respect to Internet sex addiction because WM interference by addiction-related cues is well known from substance dependencies.

Comments

Hooray

Lets keep going with the studies, just like that! Do they know if the damage is reversible in other addictions, like in hard drugs? Maybe that can at least give us a clue about porn, if they haven't yet studied that.

Not damage at all

[quote]Do they know if the damage is reversible in other addictions, like in hard drugs?[/quote]

Experiment involved healthy individuals. Study simply says that porn temporarily messes with working memory.

What would be an evolutionary

What would be an evolutionary reason that working memory (WM) would be reduced as it relates to addiction and arousal cues? Did the positive cues also lead to reduced WM? How might the brain distinguish between positive and negative arousal? How do we know that negative isn't dominant and that addiction/porn falls below positive in the brain's hierarchy? Am I reading in more than the results might suggest?

What would be an evolutionary

What would be an evolutionary reason that working memory (WM) would be reduced as it relates to addiction and arousal cues?

The reward circuit's job is to assess what is most important. Porn may push all aother thoughts into the background, as sexual opportunity would for most mammals.

Did the positive cues also lead to reduced WM?

Abstract says only porn. We hope to get full study.

How might the brain distinguish between positive and negative arousal?

It has very specific groups of dopamine neurons within the nucleus acccumbens that are activated for each. See - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718131355.htm

How do we know that negative isn't dominant and that addiction/porn falls below positive in the brain's hierarchy?

First, these people were probably not "addicts". But if they were addicted, I suppose it could be perceived as negative.

Am I reading in more than the results might suggest?

You? No way.

Wouldn't one then have to

Wouldn't one then have to conduct the testing in scenarios using various sequences of positive-neutral-negative-porn so that porn doesn't get pegged as negative/positive based upon neighboring/prior testing?

It's not only addicts that might view porn negatively. And we may not be looking at perceived social value as much as evolutionary value. Maybe we know it's not real despite it being arousing and addicting.

Congrats

Happy to see that porn studies are getting done and that this area will finally get some attention. I think society would greatly improve if people were more aware of what porn can do. If people want to still use porn, thats their decision, but the general public should at least be informed. I think almost all of us wasted a portion of our life watching porn, largely due to our ignorance.

I can certainly say that since quitting, my memory has improved.

I think almost all of us

I think almost all of us wasted a portion of our life watching porn, largely due to our ignorance.

We have all been informed (wrongly) that porn use cannot cause a problem.

I can certainly say that since quitting, my memory has improved.

I supect that long term effects have more to do with dopamine (no one knows). Dopamine from the reward circuit supplies the frontal lobes, which are key to memory of all types.