Can pornography be addictive? An fMRI study of men seeking treatment for problematic pornography use.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Mateusz GolaArtur Marchewka


Pornography consumption is highly prevalent, particularly among young adult males. For some individuals, problematic pornography use (PPU) is a reason for seeking treatment. Despite the pervasiveness of pornography, PPU appears under-investigated, including with respect to the underlying neural mechanisms. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined ventral striatal responses to erotic and monetary stimuli, disentangling cue-related 'wanting' from reward-related 'liking' among 28 heterosexual males seeking treatment for PPU and 24 heterosexual males without PPU. Subjects engaged in an incentive delay task in the scanner, in which they received erotic or monetary rewards preceded by predictive cues. BOLD responses to erotic and monetary cues were analyzed and examined with respect to self-reported data on sexual activity collected over the 2 preceding months. Men with and without PPU differed in their striatal responses to cues predicting erotic pictures, but not in their responses to the erotic pictures themselves, consistent with the incentive salience theory of addiction. PPU subjects when compared to control subjects showed increased activation of ventral striatum specifically for cues predicting erotic p...Continue Reading

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