Study: Viewing Porn Linked to Lower Brain Mass

A recently released study from researchers in Germany has concluded that a link exists between pornography usage and lower brain mass.

Published last week by JAMA Psychiatry, the cross-sectional study was conducted by Dr. Simone Kühn of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and Dr. Jürgen Gallinat of University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendor in Hamburg.

The researchers surveyed 64 adult males in good health, who had varying levels of pornography consumption.

"We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate," noted the researchers.

"Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption."

Kühn and Gallinat concluded that the correlation between volume of gray matter and pornography usage might be inversed.

"The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system," wrote the researchers.

"Alternatively, it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding."

Morality in Media, an anti-pornography organization in the United States, hailed the results as further proof that porn is harmful to its consumers.

In a press release posted on Monday, Morality in Media quoted the remarks of Dr. Donald Hilton, a neurosurgeon from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center.

Hilton stated that the recent research "is a correlative study, so as a stand alone study it cannot support causation."

"However, it can be consistent with causation if interpreted in light of other (longitudinal) studies showing that the brain changes with learning and that learning causes the change," said Hilton.

"This study shows that heavy porn users have structural brain shrinkage. Whether they were born with the shrinkage and therefore doomed to their fate, or whether they shrink the more they watch, neither is good."

The German study comes a couple weeks after Morality in Media sponsored a conference in Virginia on the issue of pornography and its many harms to society.

Known as the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation 2014 Summit, the two-day event featured experts and activists coming together to spotlight the problems with pornography.

Patrick Trueman, CEO and president of Morality In Media, gave the opening remarks for the start of the summit.

"At this point in my career I've never seen more harm from pornography and its related sexual exploitation, but I've never been more optimistic about the future," said Trueman.

"Why that confidence, why that optimism? I would say just look around this room. Many longtime activists are here … but many of you are new, some of you are brand new."