Neurological Studies on Porn Use

neurological studies

Scientists have used neurological studies to look at the effects of pornography using tools including fMRI, MRI and EEG. They have also created neuro-endocrine and neuro-psychological studies. This page has been adapted from  Please visit if you want more in-depth information about the latest research into the effects of pornography use.

The neurological studies in the link to are categorised in two ways. First by the addiction-related brain changes each reported. Below that the same studies are listed by date of publication, with excerpts and clarifications.

Lists by addiction-related brain change: The four major brain changes induced by addiction are described by George F. Koob and Nora D. Volkow in their landmark review. Koob is the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and Volkow is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). It was published in The New England Journal of Medicine: Neurobiologic Advances from the Brain Disease Model of Addiction (2016). The paper describes the major brain changes involved with both drug and behavioural addictions, while stating in its opening paragraph that sex addiction exists:

“We conclude that neuroscience continues to support the brain disease model of addiction. Neuroscience research in this area not only offers new opportunities for the prevention and treatment of substance addictions and related behavioral addictions (e.g., to food, sex, and gambling)….”

The Volkow & Koob paper outlined four fundamental addiction-caused brain changes, which are: 1) Sensitization, 2) Desensitization, 3) Dysfunctional prefrontal circuits (hypofrontality), 4) Malfunctioning stress system. All 4 of these brain changes have been identified among the many neurological studies listed on this page:

  • Studies reporting sensitization (cue-reactivity & cravings) in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 89101112131415161718192021.
  • Studies reporting desensitization or habituation (resulting in tolerance) in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 23456.
  • Research reporting poorer executive functioning (hypofrontality) or altered prefrontal activity in porn users/sex addicts: 1, 23, 4, 567891011121314.
  • Studies indicating a dysfunctional stress system in porn users/sex addicts: 123.