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The Brain responds similarly to Sex and Drug Addictions

Latest By Bhadra Kamalasanan , Onlymyhealth editorial team / Jul 16, 2014
The Brain responds similarly to Sex and Drug Addictions

Researchers have discovered that the response of the brain when a person has sex addiction is similar to that that occurs when a person has drug addiction.

According to a first ever study that investigated the brain activity in sex addicts, it has been discovered that there is a remarkable similarity with those people who are addicted to drugs. The university of Cambridge researchers said that pornography triggers brain activity in people who have compulsive sexual behaviour known as sex addiction, which is similar to that triggered by the consumption of drugs in the brains of drug addicts.

brain stimuliBut, the researchers added that this did not necessarily mean that pornography is in itself addictive. In the UK, at least one in 25 adults is affected by compulsive sexual behaviour, which is an obsession with sexual thoughts, behaviours or feelings that they are unable to control.

The excessive use of pornography is one of the main features that were identified in a lot of people who suffered from this compulsive sexual behaviour. There is, however, no formally accepted definition of diagnosing the medical condition.

 Researchers from the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge looked at brain activity in 19 male patients who were affected by compulsive sexual behaviour and compared them with the same number of healthy volunteers.

Valerie Voon from the department of psychiatry said, “The patients started watching pornography at earlier ages and in higher proportions relative to the healthy volunteers. The patients in our trial were all people who had substantial difficulties controlling their sexual behaviour and this was having significant consequences for them, affecting their lives and relationships”.

She added, “In many ways they showed similarities in their behaviour to patients with drug addiction. We wanted to see if these similarities were reflected in brain activity too”. During the study, the participants were shown a few short videos that featured either sexually explicit content or sports whilst the brain activity was monitored with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging, which makes use of a blood oxygen level dependent signal to measure brain activity.

The researchers had found three regions of the brain in particular, namely, the ventral striatum, dorsal anterior cingulated and amygdale, were especially active in the brains of those people who had compulsive sexual behaviour compared with the healthy volunteers. These regions of the brain were particularly active in drug addicts in stimuli response.

Article source: Times of India
Image source: getty
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