Neuroscientific Approaches to (Online) Pornography Addiction


Stark, Rudolf; and Klucken, Tim


2017 in Chapter in Internet Addiction: Studies in Neuroscience, Psychology, and Behavioral Economics

  • A review chapter that concludes that all the neurobiological insights from existing studies support the concept of a pornography addiction.
The availability of pornographic material has substantially increased with the development of the Internet. As a result of this, men ask for treatment more often because their pornography consumption intensity is out of control; i.e., they are not able to stop or reduce their problematic behavior although they are faced with negative consequences. There is a long lasting debate whether these kinds of problems should be conceptualized as a behavior addiction. In the last two decades, several studies with neuroscientific approaches,... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "In the last section, we have reviewed the studies regarding brain responses toward sexual material, cue reactivity, and appetitive conditioning and finally also the neurophysiological correlates of excessive pornography consumption. We could demonstrate that sexual stimuli induce neural activation in the reward circuit (e.g., ACC, ventral striatum, orbitofrontal cortex), probably due to the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway. Thus, the hypothesis that the consumption of pornography might be appetitive for most men is confirmed. The appetitive value of pornographic material is further underlined by the fact that these stimuli can be used as unconditioned stimuli in appetitive conditioning experiments. Therefore—similar to other addictions—formally neutral stimuli become triggers of the addictive behavior."
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