JULY 13, 2014
News Corp Australia
PORN addicts get high in the same way drug addicts do when using, brain researchers have discovered.
Scientists at Cambridge University examined a group of male sex addicts and found that their brain patterns when watching pornography closely matched the patterns of drug users. A control group showed no such correlation.
“There are clear differences in brain activity between patients who have compulsive sexual behaviour and healthy volunteers.
“These differences mirror those of drug addicts,’ said Cambridge researcher Dr Valerie Voon, whose findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
While there are no exact figures, it’s estimated that about one in 25 adults is affected by compulsive sexual behaviour and an obsession with sexual thoughts.
There is no formal way of diagnosing sex addiction, although excessive use of pornography is common among sufferers.
In the study 19 men were shown videos containing porn. The researchers found that three regions of the brain were stimulated by the explicit sexual images — the ventral striatum, dorsal anterior cingulate and amygdala.
The ventral striatum is known to process reward and motivation; the dorsal anterior cingulate is thought to anticipate rewards and drug craving and the amygdala has a role in processing the significance of events and emotions. These same regions are activated in drug addicts when they get a hit.
The researchers, however, were quick to stress that their findings don’t necessarily mean that pornography is addictive.
“While these findings are interesting, it’s important to note, however, that they could not be used to diagnose the condition,” Dr Voon said.
“Nor does our research necessarily provide evidence that these individuals are addicted to porn — or that porn is inherently addictive.
“Much more research is required to understand this relationship between compulsive sexual behaviour and drug addiction.”