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Study Suggests That Problematic Porn Consumption Qualifies As Behavioral Addiction

"These findings suggest that PPU may represent a behavioral addiction and that interventions helpful in targeting behavioral and substance addictions warrant consideration for adaptation and use in helping men with PPU."

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions, have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society. "What’s the Research" aims to shed light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn’s harms in a variety of ways. Below are selected excerpts from published studies on this issue.

The full study can be accessed here.

Authors: Mateusz Gola Ph.D., Małgorzata Wordecha, Guillaume Sescousse Ph.D., Michał Lew-Starowicz MD, Ph.D., Bartosz Kossowski MSc, Marek Wypych Ph.D., Scott Makeig Ph.D., Marc N. Potenza, MD, Ph.D., Artur Marchewka Ph.D.
Published June 2016

Abstract

Pornography consumption is highly prevalent, particularly among young adult males. For some individuals, problematic pornography use (PPU) is a reason for seeking treatment. Despite the pervasiveness of pornography, PPU appears under-investigated, including with respect to the underlying neural mechanisms.

Methods

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers examined ventral striatal responses to erotic and monetary stimuli, disentangling cue-related ‘wanting’ from reward-related ‘liking’ among 28 heterosexual males seeking treatment for PPU and 24 heterosexual males without PPU.

Subjects engaged in an incentive delay task in the scanner, in which they received erotic or monetary rewards preceded by predictive cues. BOLD responses to erotic and monetary cues were analyzed and examined with respect to self-reported data on sexual activity collected over the 2 preceding months. Men with and without PPU differed in their striatal responses to cues predicting erotic pictures, but not in their responses to erotic pictures.

Results

Findings suggested that, similar to what is observed in substance and gambling addictions, the neural and behavioral mechanisms associated with the anticipatory processing of cues specifically predicting erotic rewards relate importantly to clinically relevant features of PPU. These findings suggest that PPU may represent a behavioral addiction and that interventions helpful in targeting behavioral and substance addictions warrant consideration for adaptation and use in helping men with PPU.

The full study can be accessed here.