Brain structure and functional connectivity affected by pornography consumption
A study published in JAMA Psychiatry (see HERE) has established a correlation between certain alterations in brain connectivity and functionality and pornography consumption.
The accessibility of pornographic content on the Internet has greatly increased the number of people accessing it, and the time spent watching it.
The study authors, based on the assumption that pornography consumption is similar to other reward-seeking, novelty-seeking and addictive behaviors, hypothesized that there were alterations in the neural network of the orbitofrontal striated cortex infrequent.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS IN THE STUDY
In order to prove their hypothesis, they designed a study conducted in the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin (Germany), recruiting 64 healthy adult males covering a wide range of pornography consumption.
The study found that pornography consumption was associated with the neural structure, task-related activation and functional resting-state connectivity.
The main outcomes noted were a reduction in the gray matter volume of the brain in the right caudate, in which significant changes were found that implied a negative association, shrinking further the more time spent watching pornography. Changes were also observed in the functional activity of the left putamen.
The study concluded that there is a negative association between pornography consumption and the gray matter volume of the aforementioned areas of the cerebral cortex. At the same time, the dorsolateral prefrontal cerebral cortex could reflect a change in neural plasticity as a consequence of intense stimulation of the reward system, together with lower modulation of prefrontal cortical areas.
In fact, the brain areas affected by pornography consumption are related with gratification and experiencing pleasure, which is responsible for the onset of addictive phenomena when stimulated repeatedly and often.
As a study limitation, it should be noted that it was not established whether the modifications observed could correspond to a precondition, such as a functional alteration in the brain reward system that would make some individual.