Researchers at the Max Planck institute for Human Development has published a paper in the JAMA Psychiatry, which presented findings that suggested the hours spent watching pornography was correlated with different levels of gray matter in certain parts of the brain

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For the study, researchers had 64 healthy males with an age range 21-45. study participants filled out surveys about how many hours per week were spent watching pornography. Most men said they did not spend more than 4 hours per week viewing pornographic material.

The brains of the study participants were then monitored with an MRI machine while being shown pornographic and non-pornographic images. The researchers found that the time participants said they watched porn correlated with less activity in the right caudate of the striatum. While the participants were being shown pornographic images, the MRI also revealed a decrease in activity in the part of brain associated with process motivation.

The study also revealed that the amount of reported time spent watching porn also correlated negatively with connectivity between the right caudate and the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

BrainLobesLabelled

Since its difficult to prove whether or not porn is the cause of decreased brain activity, the researchers have called for further studies.

“Future studies should investigate the effects of pornography longitudinally or expose naïve participants to pornography and investigate causal effects over time,” said researchers.

Researches noted that they are uncertain what their results mean, but have suggested a couple of theories.

They suggested that excessive stimulation, and the chemical rewards that come with it, result in a change in the normal neural plasticity of the brain. Conversely, it could be that individuals with less ‘grey’ matter in their striatum require more stimulation that others do

– or that they find watching pornography more rewarding, leading to the increase in viewing hours

Researcher acknowledge in the journal that further studies are needed with stricter controls before any concrete conclusions are drawn.

[via Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry]

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