Do Porn Watchers Have Smaller Brains?

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If you watch a lot of porn, your brain may show it, new research suggests.

German researchers looked at the brains of 64 men between the ages of 21 and 45 and found that one brain region (the striatum, linked to reward processing), was smaller in the brains of porn watchers, and that a specific part of the same region is also less activated when exposed to more pornography. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, also showed that the connection between the striatum and prefrontal cortex seemed to be weaker in brains of men who watched porn.

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“Basically everything that people do very frequently can shape their brain structure and function,” Simone Kühn, the study's lead author from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development told Reuters.

Still, the study doesn't confirm whether watching porn causes the changes, or whether people with a certain brain type are inherently more apt to tune into X-rated content.

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But because the areas of the brain that appear to be affected are linked to rewards and motivation and decision making, some have suggested that porn watchers may be lazier and poor decision-makers.

"Everything is going to be bad in excess and it's probably not terrible in moderation," Dr. Gregory Tau of the Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters.