The Initiation and Development of Cybersex Addiction: Individual Vulnerability, Reinforcement Mechanism and Neural Mechanism (2019): Excerpt analyzing Prause et al., 2015

Link to full paper – The Initiation and Development of Cybersex Addiction: Individual Vulnerability, Reinforcement Mechanism and Neural Mechanism (2019)

Note – numerous other peer-reviewed papers agree that Prause et al., 2015 supports the porn addiction model: Peer-reviewed critiques of Prause et al., 2015

Excerpt critiquing Prause et al., 2015:

First, Steele et al. (2013) found that individuals with viewing of visual sexual stimuli (VSS) induced a greater amplitude of the P300 component when viewing erotic images than when viewing neutral images. The results seem to confirm the notion that online pornography leads to an individual’s hunger for online pornography, but Steele’s research lacks normal subjects for reference. In addition, LPP components appear later than P300. Late positive potential is associated with the stimulation of significant material processing and better reflects the individual’s desire to watch pornographic material (Hilton, 2014) (the greater the individual’s desire to watch pornography, the greater the LPP volatility). In this regard, Prause and Steele et al. (2015) added individuals who viewed less pornographic material to VSS individuals in the improvement experiment, and found that subjects who had excessively viewed pornographic material problems and reported more sexual desire were watching erotic images. The induced LPP amplitude is smaller, and this result seems to be contrary to the idea that online pornography-related clues induce a sense of craving. Actually, some scholars have pointed out that the erotic images used in the study by Prause and Steele may be an addiction in itself. Consumer goods, not addictive cues (Gola et al., 2017; Gola, Wordecha, Marchewka, & Sescousse, 2016). Therefore, according to the Theory of Incentive-Salience Theory (IST) in drug addiction, as the degree of addiction deepens, the cues of addiction can induce the addicted desire of addicted individuals to become more and more addicted. (Berridge, 2012; Robinson, Fischer, Ahuja, Lesser, & Maniates, 2015), but the addiction to the addicted individuals has gradually decreased, and the decrease in LPP amplitude indicates that CA may be addicted to drugs.

YBOP Comments: The above critique is very similar to other peer-reviewed papers in that it contrasts and compares Prause’s 2013 EEG study (Steele et al.) with Prause et al., 2015. As with all other analyses, this one agrees with Gola’s analysis. In reality, both studies reported evidence of habituation or desensitization, which is consistent with the addiction model (tolerance). Let me explain.

It’s important to know that Prause et al., 2015 AND Steele et al., 2013 had the same “porn addicted” subjects. The problem is that Steele et al. had no control group for comparison! So Prause et al., 2015 compared the 2013 subjects from Steele et al., 2013 to an actual control group (yet it suffered from the same methodological flaws named above). The results: Compared to controls “individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing” had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The ACTUAL results of Prause’s two EEG studies:

  1. Steele et al., 2013: Individuals with greater cue-reactivity to porn had less desire for sex with a partner, but not less desire to masturbate.
  2. Prause et al., 2015: “Porn addicted users” had less brain activation to static images of vanilla porn. Lower EEG readings mean that the “porn addicted” subjects were paying less attention to the pictures.

A clear pattern emerges from the 2 studies: The “porn addicted users” were desensitized or habituated to vanilla porn, and those with greater cue-reactivity to porn preferred to masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Put simply they were desensitized (a common indication of addiction) and preferred artificial stimuli to a very powerful natural reward (partnered sex). There is no way to interpret these results as falsifying porn addiction. The findings support the addiction model.