Neuroscience Speaks: How Using Porn Destroys Your Brain
Neuroscience now knows that willpower is a function of the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Scientific studies have also confirmed that using porn over and over actually reshapes these areas of the brain, literally eroding our willpower and our moral compass.
Neuroscientists call it hypofrontality. Hypofrontality is a state in which there is decreased blood flow to the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Hypofrontality is observed in schizophrenia patients and is also observed in all manner of addictions.
“Compulsiveness is a good descriptor of hypofrontality. Many porn users feel focused on getting to porn and masturbating even when a big part of them is saying, ‘Don’t do this.’ Even when negative consequences seem imminent, impulse control is too weak to battle the cravings.”
The porn-addicted brain has trouble thinking logically. When impulses and desires come from the midbrain, instead of being moderated, the brain feels these desires as compelling needs. The prefrontal region is supposed to be able to weigh consequences and situations and judiciously shut down cravings, but hypofrontality means the addict’s ability to do this is impaired.
The more one masturbates to porn, the more dopamine is released in the brain. Eventually dopamine receptors and signals in the brain fatigue, leaving the viewer wanting more but unable to reach a level of satisfaction. The viewer becomes numb to things once considered pleasurable. “To escape this desensitization, people, and men especially, expand their pornographic tastes to more novel stimuli,” Black writes. This leads, again, to more fatigue.
To bring the prefrontal lobes back into working order, a two-pronged attack is needed: (1) the old neural pathways must be starved, and (2) new neural pathways must be built and fed, increasing dopamine levels in a way that build up the prefrontal cortex.
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