Watching Porn Linked to Brain Differences

Study: But it's not clear whether it's a cause or effect

By Derek Andersen,  Newser Staff

Posted May 29, 2014 1:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – Men who watch porn tend to be a little different in the head—literally. A German study of 64 men between the ages of 21 and 45 that made use of MRIs found that the more porn they reported watching, the smaller the volume of the brain area associated with rewards and motivation was, Reuters reports. That brain region is called the striatum, and the researchers also found that another area that's part of the striatum "shows less activation the more pornography participants consumed," says lead author Simone Kühn. But Kühn is very clear that the conclusions stop there.

She points out that her study "cannot answer" whether porn viewing causes changes in the brain or whether the differences are already there and people with that type of brain are inclined to watch more porn. And it means her study didn't conclude whether watching porn harms us. As for who that "us" is, a third of American women watch it and 70% of American men ages 18 to 24 visit pornographic websites monthly or more, the Telegraph reports. (Here are more details about America's porn-watching habits.) What draws people to porn? The German researchers approached their study with the assumption that "pornography consumption bears resemblance with reward-seeking behavior, novelty-seeking behavior, and addictive behavior," they write in their paper in JAMA Psychiatry.

An MRI of the brain.
An MRI of the brain.   (Shutterstock)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
16%
45%
5%
8%
5%
21%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   HitFix   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   CollegeHumor   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!