Brain Study Shows Surprising Result for Pornography

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In what at first appears to be counterintuitive, a brain scan study out of Groningen Medical Center in the Netherlands,reported on in Live Science, shows activity falls in visual processing areas of the brain when viewing pornography. Since the activity is one surrounding visual input, this seems backwards.

Scientists are explaining the movement of blood in the brain (indicative of energy use) away from visual centers as the result of mood changes during porn viewing. When we are anxious, our visual processing takes more resources – we want to be especially aware of our surroundings when afraid. With sexual arousal, the opposite happens – we become relaxed and pleasure centers are stimulated instead.

The end result is that visual information just isn’t as important as the emotions and the tactile sensations. So visual centers don’t need as many resources. The net result is that details in a scene are lost – no one really pays any attention to the backgrounds or much of the other input. As long as they know what’s going on, that’s enough. The color of the bedspread or the lighting doesn’t matter at all.

This might explain the very poor cinematic elements most pornography displays. They simply don’t need special effects, sweeping scenery or complex action. As long as viewers can understand what’s going on, that’s enough. In fact, this may be why some old movies simply used the blurred-out, pan away style of indicating lovemaking. Audiences of these movies didn’t need to see any flesh or even movement under the sheets. These scenes could be very arousing, simply by suggesting those activities.

For those with a porn addiction, this just adds more proof to the idea that the addiction is real. With elements more akin to addictions that don’t engage visual elements—engaging pleasure centers instead—porn addiction more closely matches drug addiction where it counts, the brain.

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