Dopamine and Addiction by Two Researchers

Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

These three clips created by leading researchers Nora Volkow and Adam Kepecs appear in this article on dopamine and addiction:

  1. Nora Volkow: Short Clip – “The Unyielding Power of Dopamine”
  2. Nora Volkow: Series of clips on Addiction (highly recommended)
  3. Adam Kepecs: Short Clip – Violating Expectations Raises Dopamine

Unfortunately, neither doctor discusses how porn is more like a drug than a natural reinforcer. With porn someone can keep clicking to something novel…and thus keep jacking up dopamine. This is especially true as the user begins “edging”. This is the practice of consciously avoiding climax as he views more and more arousing material. See Has Evolution Trained Our Brains to Gorge on Food and Sex?

So binging on porn is not a natural reinforcer like eating, where one automatically gets “full”. In fact, binging on junk food isn’t a natural reinforcer in terms of its effects on most brains. It doesn’t lead to feelings of satiety and satisfaction either. Below, Nora Volkow discusses junk foods, and food addiction. See Addicted rats ‘starved themselves’ rather than give up junk food in study.

Finally, porn may release more dopamine than normal sex. As Kepecs would say, a porn viewer’s “expectations are constantly violated” with shocking visuals. Hopefully, doctors will soon start to explain to the general public how extreme versions of natural reinforcers can morph into causing drug-like, addictive effects on the brain.