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Porn Addiction is Just Like Alcoholism, Substance Abuse - Study

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Sep 23, 2013 08:35 AM EDT
Adult Movie Actress, Porn
An adult movie actress poses during a news conference in Monterrey August 29, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Daniel Becerril )

Porn addiction induces changes in certain brain areas quite similar to the changes seen in brains of people addicted to alcohol or drugs, a new study from Cambridge University found.

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For the study, researchers hooked participants' brain to an MRI scanner and found that a brain region called ventral striatum had higher activity, according to The Independent.

Ventral striatum is a subcortical brain structure and is known to be involved in emotional and behavioral functions. Previous research has shown that the ventral striatum plays an important role in the reward system of the brain. Changes in the structure can lead to mental health problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.

"We found greater activity in an area of the brain called the ventral striatum, which is a reward center, involved in processing reward, motivation and pleasure," Dr Valerie Voon, an honorary consultant neuropsychiatrist, lead author of the study told the Sunday Times. "When an alcoholic sees an ad for a drink, their brain will light up in a certain way and they will be stimulated in a certain way. We are seeing this same kind of activity in users of pornography."

The study included 19 people who said that they were addicted to pornography and a control group that had people who didn't feel the compulsion to watch porn.

Their study hasn't been published yet, but is featured in a documentary called "Porn on the Brain", which will be aired on the English Channel 4, The Independent reported.

A recent study had shown that porn has a small to moderate effect on sexual behavior of teens.

Pornography is protected by the First Amendment in the U.S., but is a controversial topic in the U.K.

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