Your Brain on Porn

Printer-friendly version

Start here for a brief overview of concepts & science

This article is a short synopsis of some key concepts. For the science behind it, please follow all the links and read this page. Some links go to our articles, which in turn link to studies. For a more in-depth understanding and further evidence see The Research Page. For specific content explore Porn FAQs.


What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First, you see a frenzy of copulation. Then, progressively, the male tires of that particular female. Even if she wants more, he has had enough. However, replace the original female with a fresh one, and the male immediately revives and gallantly struggles to fertilize her. You can repeat this process with fresh females until he is completely wiped out.

This is called the Coolidge effect—the automatic response to novel mates. Interestingly, men ejaculate more motile sperm and they do it more quickly when they view a novel porn star. This powerful automatic response to erotic novelty is what started you down the road to getting hooked on internet porn.

Studies linking porn use or porn/sex addiction to sexual dysfunctions, lower arousal, and lower sexual & relationship satisfaction

Reality Check - Regardless of what you may read in some journalistic accounts, multiple studies reveal a link between porn use and sexual performance problems, relationship and sexual dissatisfaction, and reduced brain activation to sexual stimuli.

Let's start with sexual dysfunctions. Studies assessing young male sexuality since 2010 report historic levels of sexual dysfunctions, and startling rates of a new scourge: low libido. Documented in this lay article and in this literature review by the US Navy.

Brain Studies on Porn Users

This page lists all the studies assessing the brain structure and functioning of Internet porn users. To date every study offers support for the porn addiction model (no studies falsify the porn addiction model). The results of these 30 neurological studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 190+ Internet addiction "brain studies", many of which also include internet porn use. All support the premise that internet porn use can cause addiction-related brain changes, as do 10 recent neuroscience-based reviews of the literature:

Gary's TEDx talk - "The Great Porn Experiment"

Captions also available for other languages, including 한국의, Chinese, Português, Czech, Deutsch, Estonian, עברית, Hungarian, Italian, Polski, Serbian, Slovak. Vietamese. To see them, click on the 'YouTube' logo to watch on YOUTube. Then, when you get there, click on "CC" for captions (bottom right of screen). Ver YBOP series in Español. Make captions in your own language!

Debunking the debunker: Critique of letter to the editor “Prause et al. (2015) the latest falsification of addiction predictions”

Introduction: In various comments, articles and tweets Nicole Prause has claimed that not only did Prause et al., 2015 falsify "a core tenet of the addiction model, the cue reactivity biomarker," but that "a series of behavioral studies replicated by independent laboratories [falsify] other predictions of the addiction model." Prause cites the Letter to the Editor (critiqued here) as her supporting evidence. Put simply, Prause has gathered all her debunking eggs into one basket - the single paragraph excerpted below. This YBOP response serves as a debunking of the debunker (Nicole Prause) and all her favorite "eggs."

PIED cured: It felt really great. I can clearly see the benefits of no-fap and no porn for 6 months

I want to make this post as short as possible and valuable for you. This morning I had sex with my girlfriend. I cannot say, it was the best one, but it was the first time without any additional pills or toys (will explain soon). So it felt really great and I can clearly see the benefits of no-fap and no porn since August, 2016. [Now Feb. 2017]

Age 25 - PIED & DE cured: As long as I can remember I had problems keeping my erection without stimulation

My story: Divorced with my wife. Had stress like....a lot. Met new Girl Friend was nervous, and noticed some problems. My story is as long as I can remember myself I had problems keeping my erection, without stimulation. I can get Hard very fast, but if stimulation is not there, then my erections went away. Also standing up erections goes away fast.

Age 19 - Bad PIED cured: I heavily questioned if I was gay because I couldn't get hard.

Hello all, I joined this website early July 2016 and last time I masturbated and watched porn was July 25, 2016. It has been the best decision of my life and as of today I can finally see the benefits.

Backstory is I'm a 19 year old and I had BAD PIED when I started and I was attracted to my girlfriend but I simply couldn't get it up for the life of me. It got so bad I had to man up and tell her, she was boldly accepting of it and decided to help me overcome it and she also has stopped watching porn herself.