Ventral Striatum Activity When Watching Preferred Pornographic Pictures is Correlated With Symptoms of Internet Pornography Addiction


Brand, Matthias; Snagowski, Jan; Laier, Christian; and Maderwald, Stefan


2016 in Neuroimage, Vol 129, pp. 224-232

  • The results of this study support the role for the ventral striatum in processing reward anticipation and gratification linked to subjectively preferred pornographic material - these patterns may contribute to a neural explanation of why individuals with certain preferences and sexual fantasies are at-risk for losing their control over Internet pornography consumption.
One type of Internet addiction is excessive pornography consumption, also referred to as cybersex or Internet pornography addiction. Neuroimaging studies found ventral striatum activity when participants watched explicit sexual stimuli compared to non-explicit sexual/erotic material. We now hypothesized that the ventral striatum should respond to preferred pornographic compared to non-preferred pornographic pictures and that the ventral striatum activity in this contrast should be correlated with subjective symptoms of Internet... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "The results are also in line with current neurobiological concepts of the addiction process in which the ventral striatum is considered a key brain structure for processing reward anticipation. The ventral striatum activity shown in our study could therefore consider a neural correlate of cue-reactivity, which is a main correlate of experiencing craving. Cue-reactivity is frequently operationalized by ratings of arousal, valence, and subjective craving, as well as physiological or neural reactions to specific cues. The concept of cue-reactivity and craving has already been transferred to behavioral addictions, for example gambling disorder, with some first fMRI studies investigating neural correlates of cue reactivity and craving, focusing on the ventral striatum, in individuals with gambling disorder. A similar response pattern has been demonstrated in excessive online gaming, hypersexual behavior and – on a behavioral level – also in subjects with a tendency towards IPA."
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