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]."

These study results are consistent with 120+ Internet addiction brain studies, many of which also include internet porn use. In short, 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!

Attend a sexual health conference in Philadelphia, October 8-10

SASH logoThe Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) is a nonprofit multidisciplinary organization dedicated to scholarship, clinical training, and resources for promoting sexual health and overcoming problematic sexual behaviors. SASH welcomes members of the public to attend its annual conference.

Age 17 - Energy, confidence, anxiety lowered significantly

young coupleI'm 6'1" 165lbs (approx) and 17 years old. My masturbation + pornography adventure begun when i was 12 or so (grade 7). Started simply talking with a few guys about this new amazing never heard before "masturbating" and of course the hot girls on the internet.

Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update (2015)

COMMENTS: Thorough and compelling review of the neuroscience literature related to Internet addiction subtypes, with special focus on internet porn addiction. The review also critiques recent headline-grabbing studies by SPAN lab, which purport to have "debunked porn addiction." An excerpt from the abstract:

"Within this review, we give a summary of the concepts proposed underlying addiction and give an overview about neuroscientific studies on Internet addiction and Internet gaming disorder. Moreover, we reviewed available neuroscientific literature on Internet pornography addiction and connect the results to the addiction model. The review leads to the conclusion that Internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction."

Age 22 - PIED cured! Raging boner, and I felt in control over my body

couple in bed While I've had sex this summer under the influence of alcohol, I could not reach orgasm, probably due to the numbing caused by both fapping and alcohol.

Age 28 - PIED cured: 7 months - What I've learned

In the past two weeks I had successful sex with three different girls. I think it’s a good enough sign that my PIED is now cured and I’m ready to continue living healthy life without burden of shame, fear, guilt and self-doubt on my shoulders.

Age 17 - A lot more confident, No more anxiety, Feel more attractive, Developed awareness

happy guyI'm leaving :) This community helped me alot , I tried to help it back everytime that I could . But I feel that my mission here is done. I'm on 114 days and I feel no more urges. I'm confident and happy every single moment of my life

My husband's porn addiction

Follow Gary's new Twitter account

Link to Twitter@YourBrainOnPorn

Get the latest news on internet porn's effects. Note - Twitter account is not designed for personal advice.

Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction: What the Experts are Saying (The Porn Effect)

sad guyI've put this article together for two reasons: First, if you're a male trying to break free from porn, one really potent, self-interested argument for why you should stop is that you may develop porn induced erectile dysfunction.

Critique of "Perceived Addiction to Internet Pornography and Psychological Distress: Examining Relationships Concurrently and Over Time" (2015)

Fake NewsHere are a few of the headlines birthed from this new study by Joshua B. Grubbs, Nicholas Stauner, Julie J. Exline, Kenneth I. Pargament, and Matthew J. Lindberg (Grubbs et al.):

  • Watching Porn Is OK. Believing In Porn Addiction Is Not
  • Perceived Addiction To Porn Is More Harmful Than Porn Use Itself
  • Believing You Have Porn Addiction Is the Cause of Your Porn Problem, Study Finds

Age 21 - Less brain fog, More energy, More confidence/nerves of steel/less social anxiety

Call me when you grow upWe (our general age group) are all looking for a potential significant other who is an adult. Ask anybody what his or her ideal qualities in a girlfriend/boyfriend are, and nobody’s going to say “immature” or “childish.”

Trading Later Rewards for Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption and Delay Discounting (2015)

Comments: This paper (abstract below) contains two longitudinal studies examining the effects of Internet porn on "delay discounting." Delay discounting happens when people choose ten dollars right now rather than 20 dollars in a week. It's the inability to delay immediate gratification for a more valuable reward in the future.


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