Brain Studies on Porn Users

Max Planck Institute logoRecent studies assessing brain structure & functioning of Internet porn users:

  1. Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn (2014) - A German study which found 3 significant addiction-related brain changes correlating with the amount of porn consumed. It also found that more porn use correlated with less reward circuit activation while viewing sexual photos. Researchers stated their findings indicated desensitization, and possibly tolerance, the need for greater stimulation.
  2. Cambridge University logoNeural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours (2014) - The first in a series of Cambridge University studies found the same brain activity as seen in drug addicts and alcoholics. It also found that porn addicts fit the accepted addiction model of wanting "it" more, but not liking "it" more. The researchers also reported that 60% of subjects (average age: 25) had difficulty achieving erections/arousal with real partners, yet could achieve erections with porn.
  3. Enhanced Attentional Bias towards Sexually Explicit Cues in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours (2014) - The second Cambridge University study. An excerpt: "Our findings of enhanced attentional bias... suggest possible overlaps with enhanced attentional bias observed in studies of drug cues in disorders of addictions. These findings converge with recent findings of neural reactivity to sexually explicit cues in [porn addicts] in a network similar to that implicated in drug-cue-reactivity studies and provide support for incentive motivation theories of addiction underlying the aberrant response to sexual cues in [porn addicts]."

The results of these studies (and the studies below) are consistent with 120+ Internet addiction brain studies, many of which also include internet porn use. As two recent reviews explain (review1, review2) there's ample and growing peer-reviewed scientific support for the addiction model.

Start here for a brief overview of concepts & science

This article is a short synopsis of some key concepts. For the science behind it, please follow all the links and read this page. Some links go to our articles, which in turn link to studies. For a more in-depth understanding and further evidence see The Research Page. For specific content explore Porn FAQs.


What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First, you see a frenzy of copulation. Then, progressively, the male tires of that particular female. Even if she wants more, he has had enough. However, replace the original female with a fresh one, and the male immediately revives and gallantly struggles to fertilize her.

Gary's TEDx talk - "The Great Porn Experiment"

Captions also available for 한국의, Chinese, Português, Czech, Deutsch, Estonian, עברית, Hungarian, Italian, Polski, Serbian, Slovak. Vietamese. To see them, click on the 'YouTube' logo to watch on YOUTube. Then, when you get there, click on "CC" for captions (bottom right of screen). Ver YBOP series in Español. Make captions in your own language!

Age 19 - Porn induced erectile dysfunction cured. More socially confident

YOUNG GUYI decided to start NoFap the first time I slept with a girl. Reason was: I couldn't get it hard in bed. There I was with my boner, before we went to bed, when we started to take our clothes, I didn't have it, I completly lost the boner I had before.

Much better confidence, patience, memory. Less fear & anxiety. All apsects of health improved.

young guyToday is day 217. It has been so fast. It seems I just started this journey yesterday. I started practicing premature sex at around 8 years old. At around 11 years, I started heavy M&O.

Age 23 - Feel better about myself, women find me more interesting

happy guyCan't believe I made it. This is maybe my 10th attempt over the past year and I actually don't even think about it anymore.

1 year - My mentality has drastically changed towards women, studies, work, relations & life

couple flirtingWhat an incredible community with amazing people. I can't believe that an internet community could influence my daily life, even in a little way.. but it definitively did. All of you are already successful by recognizing you have a problem. That's the first step in the rebooting process.

Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards (2015)

Cambridge buildingsComments: New Cambridge University brain study. Subjects were carefully screened porn addicts. Compared with controls, they habituated faster to sexual images. That is, their brains became less activated seeing the same image...they were more quickly bored. Thus, the novelty of internet porn drives the addiction to it, creating a circular spiral of needing more novelty to overcome faster habituation. But this desire for novelty in porn addicts was NOT pre-existing. That is, the 'chicken' is porn use and the 'egg' is novelty-seeking.


Age 29 - (Female) Going cold turkey was my only option

young womanIf you think it's just men who are addicted to porn - think again. Izzy Barnett says her addiction to blue movies cost her her job her friends and left her with crippling debts

Commentary on "Everything We Think We Know About Addiction Is Wrong - In a Nutshell"

What you really need to know about Johann Hari's claims

The popular Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell video, based on Johann Hari's TED talk, makes a couple of very good points. First, the benefits of human connection are indeed a major contributor to wellbeing for all of us.

I feel alive, happy, healthy and ready to tackle each and every day now.

happy guyI got emotional this morning... after a woodie when I woke.  It's one hell of an achievement for me not cracking one off for 3 months. I feel different, confident with myself that I have more control over what I do and think sexually.

Age 32 - (Female) Rebooting is working to clear long-standing fetish!

happy ladyI'm a bit more than 50 days into nofap. WAY longer than I thought I could make it. I'm more than making it. The urges to M are few and far between now, which is freeing up energy.


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