Pornography addiction – a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity

Abstract (entire study)

Addiction has been a divisive term when applied to various compulsive sexual behaviors (CSBs), including obsessive use of pornography. Despite a growing acceptance of the existence of natural or process addictions based on an increased understanding of the function of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward systems, there has been a reticence to label CSBs as potentially addictive. While pathological gambling (PG) and obesity have received greater attention in functional and behavioral studies, evidence increasingly supports the description of CSBs as an addiction. This evidence is multifaceted and is based on an evolving understanding of the role of the neuronal receptor in addiction-related neuroplasticity, supported by the historical behavioral perspective. This addictive effect may be amplified by the accelerated novelty and the ‘supranormal stimulus’ (a phrase coined by Nikolaas Tinbergen) factor afforded by Internet pornography.

Keywords: brain; addiction; pornography; neuroplasticity; sexuality
Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD*

Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, USA

Received: 4 March 2013; Revised: 1 June 2013; Accepted: 1 June 2013; Published: 19 July 2013

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