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article imageToo much porn could mess with men's brains

By Anne Sewell     May 30, 2014 in Health
Berlin - According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, they found less grey matter in the brains of men who watched large amounts of porn. The research was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry Wednesday and could have men a tad worried.
While the research apparently could not determine if watching and looking at porn did actually cause the brain to shrink, the authors have called for more study on the subject. The findings so far can be viewed here.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development stated that further studies "should investigate the effects of pornography longitudinally or expose naive participants to pornography and investigate the causal effects over time."
The research was carried out by recruiting 64 male subjects between the ages of 21 and 45, apparently "with a broad range of pornography consumption."
The men were not initially told that the research was monitoring the effects of porn on their brains. Apparently they were informed that it was "a scientific study including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements."
Later on during a phone interview, the men were told that questions about pornography would be included as part of the research. No one objected or dropped out of the study. The men then completed surveys, explaining how much porn they watched and apparently their responses averaged just over four hours per week.
The men were then shown sexually explicit images from pornographic websites, mixed in with non-sexual images of people performing exercise. All the while their brains were scanned using MRI technology.
According to the findings, the grey matter volume of the "right caudate of the striatum is smaller with higher pornography use." When the sexually explicit material, or porn, was shown, the MRIs showed diminished function in a part of the brain that processes motivation.
The study did not confirm for sure whether men with smaller striatums needed more porn, or whether porn actually makes the brain smaller.
The authors stated that "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," concluding that more study is needed.
The research was carried out by Simone Kühn along with her colleague, Jurgen Gallinat from Charite University, also in Berlin.
Kühn did say that other behaviors, such as driving a taxi, are also linked to changes to brain size and functioning.
“Basically everything that people do very frequently can shape their brain structure and function,” she said.
Reuters quoted Dr. Gregory Tau of the Columbia University / New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York, who was not actually involved in the study, as saying, “Everything is going to be bad in excess and it’s probably not terrible in moderation.”
More about Max Planck Institute, Porn, Pornography, men's brains, JAMA Psychiatry
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