LifestyleDo you watch sites for adults only? Your brain is changing

Do you watch sites for adults only? Your brain is changing

Do you watch sites for adults only? Your brain is changing
Images source: © Pexels | Eren Li
4:47 PM EDT, October 20, 2023

The mental health and sexual life of a large audience suffer catastrophic consequences. From depression to erectile dysfunction, porn seems to link our neuronal connections with tragic consequences.

The properties of pornography make it a particularly strong stimulus for plasticity, that is, the brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Combined with the accessibility and anonymity of adult sites, we are more susceptible than ever to its hyperstimulating effect.

In the long term, pornography seems to cause sexual dysfunctions, especially the inability to achieve an erection or orgasm with another person. The quality of marital relations and attachment to a sexual partner also seem to be threatened - according to studies published in The Conversation.

"Pornography like a drug"

Some scientists try to explain these effects through similarities between porn consumption and the abuse of addictive substances. As a result of evolution, the brain is so structured that it reacts to sexual stimulation with a surge of dopamine.

This neurotransmitter, most often associated with the reward system, also works to program memories and information in the brain. This adaptation means that when the body needs something, like food or sex, the brain remembers where to return in order to experience the same pleasure.

Instead of turning to their partner for sexual satisfaction or fulfillment, habitual porn users instinctively reach for their phones and laptops when desire awakens within them.

"Pornography fulfills every prerequisite for neuroplastic changes. When pornographers boast about pushing the boundary by introducing new, harder topics, they do not reveal that they have to, because their clients build tolerance to this content"- explains psychiatrist Norman Doidge.

Porn scenes, similar to addictive substances, are hyperstimulating triggers that lead to an unnaturally high level of dopamine release. This can damage the dopamine reward system and make it unresponsive to natural sources of pleasure. That's why users start to experience difficulties in getting aroused with a physical partner.

Pornography can contribute to the development of mental illnesses

Research shows that changes in dopamine transmission may contribute to the development of depression and anxiety. Consistent with this observation, pornography consumers report more symptoms of depression, lower quality of life, and worse mental health compared to people who do not watch pornography.

Another convincing finding in this study is that compulsive porn consumers want and need more porn, even if they don't necessarily like it. This discrepancy between desire and liking is a characteristic feature of reward circuit dysregulation.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin discovered that a higher level of pornography use correlates with less brain activation in response to conventional pornographic images. This explains why users tend to transition to extreme and unconventional forms of pornography.

Pornography restores the brain to a youthful state

The use of pornography has been correlated with the erosion of the prefrontal cortex - the region of the brain where executive functions such as morality, willpower, and impulse control are located. To better understand the role of this structure in behavior, it's important to know that it remains poorly developed in childhood.

For this reason, children have problems with emotional regulation and impulse control. Damage to the prefrontal cortex in adulthood is referred to as hypofrontality, which predisposes an individual to compulsive behaviors and making poor decisions.

It's paradoxical that adult entertainment can bring our brain back to a more youthful state. However, a much greater irony is that while porn promises to satisfy and provide sexual satisfaction, it delivers the exact opposite.

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