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Porn May Cause Memory Loss

German scientists find that men who view pornographic images forget about other things.

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By Valerie Tejeda

12/18/12

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Turns out, even two-dimensional sex can mess with your head. Not only can watching porn be addictive, it also may cause short-term memory loss, according to new research. In a groundbreaking study, German scientists at the University of Duisburg-Essen asked 28 heterosexual men (average age 26) to view either a combination of pornographic  and non-pornographic pictures, or only non-pornographic ones. The men were then asked to recall the order in which they'd viewed the slides. Those who had looked at explicit sexual images were only able to recall the order at a rate of 67%, whereas those who saw only the non-explicit images scored an average of 80%. The researchers hope their findings will help mental health professionals understand more about online porn addiction—particularly why many addicts neglect relationships, forget to sleep and miss appointments. "Sexual arousal interferes with working memory, an important facet of executive functioning," says study author Christian Laier. "Sexual arousal and its impacts on cognitive processes might explain parts of these negative effects." Past research has found that viewing pornography can cause parts of the brain to shut down in order to redirect cognition towards the parts of the brain responsible for arousal. But this new study is only "a first step," since the test subjects were exclusively heterosexual and male, says Laier. "Our results need to be tested with respect to gender and sexual orientation to verify."

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