What is porn’s effect on the brain?
When people view pornographic videos online this activates the chemical dopamine. Dopamine surges adrenaline through the body and to the brain which releases Delta Fos B. Delta Fos B is what creates addictive traits in our bodies. When we eat fatty burgers and want more calories? Delta Fos B. Addiction to drugs? Delta Fos B.
When Delta Fos B is constantly reactivated – i.e. when constantly watching pornography - the addiction becomes habitual and the binging cyclical. The more pornography that is watched, the more Delta Fos B accumulates in the brain and eventually this causes the brain to rewire completely.
These brain changes can cause three things:
1. Numbed pleasure response
2. Hyper reactivity to pornography
3. Willpower erosion
These are symptoms of arousal addiction which can cause both psychological and physical damage to the human body and brain. The implications include: erectile dysfunction, social anxiety, depression and – unfortunately – many more. If men, particularly young men, and women become addicted to watching pornography it is very hard to break the habit.
Only last year at Cambridge University, Dr. Valerie Voon used MRI scanners to conclusively prove that people can be addicted to porn in the same way they can be addicted to drugs. The experiment used 20 healthy male volunteers as a control group and 20 male participants aged 19-34 who claimed they were addicted to pornography. The subjects of the study were shown explicit porn to see if the reward centres of their brains would respond in the same way that it would for drug addicts. When the data was analysed the results were astounding. The control group were clearly, as you would imagine, excited by porn but the compulsive users’ brains were around twice as active. The hyperactivity that showed up in the MRI scan was almost identical to addicts responding to drugs or alcohol. This experiment concluded that porn addiction exists, and affects the brain in the same way any other addiction would.
That all said, there is a long way to go in this under-researched field. If you’d like to learn more about the effects that pornography can have on the brain and see the MRI scans in action, follow this link: bit.ly/VoonScan