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Porn Turns Women’s Brains Off So Other Things Can Turn On

Allow Us To Explain

Scientist: “We’re doing this new study we were hoping you could help us out with?” Woman: “What would it involve?” Scientist: “Watching a lot of porn, and also, documentaries on sea life.” Woman: ” I will help you…for science!”

Researchers in the Netherlands have discovered, through careful scientific study, that part of our brains shut down while watching pornographic videos and that there’s a perfectly valid explanation for it. They also have a few words on how anxiety affects sexual arousal. Please do read on. 

Gert Holstege, a uroneurologist at the University of Groningen Medical Center in the Netherlands, says blood goes elsewhere while women are watching porn because we don’t need all the details. “If you look, for example, at your computer and you have to write something or whatever, then you have to look specifically and carefully at what you’re doing because if you don’t, it means you make mistakes,” Holstege told LiveScience. “But the moment you are watching explicit sexual movies, that’s not necessary, because you know exactly what’s going on. It’s not important that the door is green or yellow.”

Makes sense to me. Holstege studied the primary visual cortexes of twelve heterosexual, premenopausal women who were on hormonal birth control. The women were shown three videos while having their brain imaged.

One of the videos used in the study was a simple nature documentary about marine life in the Caribbean. The other two were selections from “women-friendly” pornographic movies, one depicting only foreplay and manual stimulation and the other depicting oral sex and vaginal intercourse. Earlier studies had shown that the higher-intensity video showing intercourse produced stronger physical arousal in women than the foreplay-focused movie clip.

The scan results revealed that the high-intensity erotic video — and only the high-intensity erotic video — resulted in far less blood being sent to the primary visual cortex. The region is still active, just much less so.

I’m assuming none of the women being studied were marine biologists or the results may have been skewed.

“‘You have to realize that the brain wants to spare as much energy as possible, so if some part of the brain is not necessary at a high level of functioning, it immediately goes down,’ he said. The findings have implications for sexual dysfunction, Holstege said, as they paint a picture of the brain in which safety is paramount and anxiety is a libido-killer.’

“The brain can either be anxious or aroused (or neither), Holstege said, but not both. During orgasm, he has found, activity in brain regions associated with anxiety plummets. This phenomenon may explain why women with low levels of sexual desire often have high levels of anxiety, Holstege said. It makes sense; if you’re looking around, focusing on visual details, scanning for danger, it may not be so easy to focus on arousal, he said.”

I would imagine parts of men’s brains also shut down while watching porn but that was not specifically mentioned in the research.

(via Mental Floss)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” (TheNerdyBird.com). She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."