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Porn aficionados have less brain volume and activity in regions of the brain associated with reward and motivation, according to a new study by German scientists.

In other words, men who self-reported watching more porn also had a lowered response to sexual stimuli. However, it’s important to note that the study cannot conclude whether the correlation was cause or effect, meaning scientists can’t yet answer the time-old question: what came first, the porn or the decreased response to sexual stimuli IRL?

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According to the study, there are two reasons this might be the case. First, watching a lot of porn creates “an intense stimulation of the reward system,” which in turn creates a lower reaction to sexual stimuli (kind of like how the more painkillers you take, the less you feel the effect of said painkillers). The alternative: the decreased brain volume and activity might be a pre-condition that draws men to watching more porn (because, you know, they don’t receive the brain response that other people get).

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, is the first evidence for a link between porn consumption and brain activity in response to sexual stimuli.

The study’s lead author, Simone Kühn, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, told Reuters:

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“We found that the volume of the so-called striatum, a brain region that has been associated with reward processing and motivated behavior was smaller the more pornography consumption the participants reported.”

“Moreover we found that another brain region, that is also part of the striatum that is active when people see sexual stimuli, shows less activation the more pornography participants consumed.”

H/T Reuters