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

      research-article

      , MD *

      Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology

      Co-Action Publishing

      brain, addiction, pornography, neuroplasticity, sexuality

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          Abstract

          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.

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          Most cited references 70

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          Is there a common molecular pathway for addiction?

          Drugs of abuse have very different acute mechanisms of action but converge on the brain's reward pathways by producing a series of common functional effects after both acute and chronic administration. Some similar actions occur for natural rewards as well. Researchers are making progress in understanding the molecular and cellular basis of these common effects. A major goal for future research is to determine whether such common underpinnings of addiction can be exploited for the development of more effective treatments for a wide range of addictive disorders.
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            Increased cortical representation of the fingers of the left hand in string players.

            Magnetic source imaging revealed that the cortical representation of the digits of the left hand of string players was larger than that in controls. The effect was smallest for the left thumb, and no such differences were observed for the representations of the right hand digits. The amount of cortical reorganization in the representation of the fingering digits was correlated with the age at which the person had begun to play. These results suggest that the representation of different parts of the body in the primary somatosensory cortex of humans depends on use and changes to conform to the current needs and experiences of the individual.
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              Brain dopamine and obesity.

              The cerebral mechanisms underlying the behaviours that lead to pathological overeating and obesity are poorly understood. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that modulates rewarding properties of food, is likely to be involved. To test the hypothesis that obese individuals have abnormalities in brain dopamine activity we measured the availability of dopamine D2 receptors in brain. Brain dopamine D2 receptor availability was measured with positron emission tomography (PET) and [C-11]raclopride (a radioligand for the dopamine D2 receptor). Bmax/Kd (ratio of the distribution volumes in striatum to that in cerebellum minus 1) was used as a measure of dopamine D2 receptor availability. Brain glucose metabolism was also assessed with 2-deoxy-2[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG). Striatal dopamine D2 receptor availability was significantly lower in the ten obese individuals (2.47 [SD 0.36]) than in controls (2.99 [0.41]; p < or = 0.0075). In the obese individuals body mass index (BMI) correlated negatively with the measures of D2 receptors (r=0.84; p < or = 0.002); the individuals with the lowest D2 values had the largest BMI. By contrast, neither whole brain nor striatal metabolism differed between obese individuals and controls, indicating that striatal reductions in D2 receptors were not due to a systematic reduction in radiotracer delivery. The availability of dopamine D2 receptor was decreased in obese individuals in proportion to their BMI. Dopamine modulates motivation and reward circuits and hence dopamine deficiency in obese individuals may perpetuate pathological eating as a means to compensate for decreased activation of these circuits. Strategies aimed at improving dopamine function may be beneficial in the treatment of obese individuals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol
                Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol
                SNP
                Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology
                Co-Action Publishing
                2000-9011
                19 July 2013
                2013
                : 3
                Affiliations
                Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, USA
                Author notes
                [* ] Donald L. Hilton Jr., 4410 Medical Drive, Suite 610, San Antonio, Texas, 77829, USA. Email: dhiltonjr@ 123456sbcglobal.net
                Article
                20767
                10.3402/snp.v3i0.20767
                3960020
                © 2013 Donald L. Hilton

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Brain and Addiction

                brain, addiction, pornography, neuroplasticity, sexuality

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