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Study finds porn could be bad for the brain

A German study published last week has found a possible link between porn consumption and brain size.

As Time reported, researchers surveyed 64 men between the ages of 21 and 45 about their porn habits and researched images of the brain to compare gray matter volume. The comparison found that men who watched a lot of porn were less stimulated by sexual content than men who watched less and that the part of the brain responsible for "processing rewards" was smaller than men who watched less porn.

While the sample size was small, the study provides increasing evidence that watching pornography affects humans physically. But the debate continues as to the level of impact porn has on individuals, especially in light of more television shows putting sex and violence at the forefront of entertainment.

The Daily Caller, The Federalist and The New York Times have all debated the value of the presence of rape, sex and violence on HBO's popular "Game of Thrones" series.

As pornographic images on the Internet and TV become more mainstream, Edward L. Winkfield of Real Truth Magazine wrote earlier this year, "Many are asking, 'Is it really all that bad?'"

A previous Canadian study published in 2009 found no link between porn watching and deviant behavior like sexual abuse, leading the study's author to equate porn and destructive behaviors to "saying that vodka ads lead to alcoholism."

Clinical psychologist David J. Ley wrote in a Psychology Today column that the problem isn't the porn itself, but the people watching.

"Sex and porn aren’t the problems. You are," Ley wrote. "The people who gravitate towards unhealthy, violent porn are people who already have a disposition towards violence. So the problem is not in the porn, but in those people."

Ley also said that trying to censor more violent aspects of porn won't make a difference in a world where a simple movie ticket can satisfy those urges.

"Regulating porn access really is going to have no impact on these people as they can (and do) find far more violent and graphic images in mainstream Hollywood films like 'Saw,'" Ley said.

Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com Twitter: ChandraMJohnson