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Monday, November 9, 2015

Research: Sex Could Improve Brain Function

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Research: Sex Could Improve Brain Function

While doing research for the article about why you should consider masturbating less frequently because of the negative impacts it has on your brain, I found something pretty interesting. Apparently as bad as chronic masturbation can be for your brain, having sex can be great for your brain. At first, I thought, “well an orgasm is an orgasm,” but research is showing an altogether different story.


Everyone knows that one of the major ways to improve brain function is to use it. There have been countless studies into the positive effects of brain games and challenges simply based on the theory that you brain is like a muscle: the more you use it the stronger it is. At Rutgers University, Dr. Barry Komisauruk found that, in women, orgasms increased blood flow to as many as 30 different parts of the brain. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. More oxygen and nutrients make for a healthier brain. According to Dr. Komisauruk, “Mental exercises increase brain activity but only in relatively localized regions. Orgasm activates the whole.”Having read this, I wondered to myself, “what other brain benefits could sex have?”


According to research done at the University of Maryland, regular sexual activity stimulates a process known as neurogenesis – the brain’s process of creating new neurons. In that same study, researchers found that as a result of the neurogenesis stimulated memory function. Another study done by scientists at the Konkuk University in Seoul concluded that regular sexual activity reversed the memory-depleting effects of chronic stress. The study says, “Sexual interaction could be helpful for buffering adult hippocampal neurogenesis and recognition memory function against the suppressive actions of chronic stress.”


So again, the question is raised, “what constitutes as sexual activity?” One could assume that sexual activity, even by yourself, would have the same results. A study from the University of Texas disagrees. According to their research, specifically into people who had pornography addictions, found that excessive porn viewing(like any other addiction)can result in permanent “anatomical and pathological” changes to the brain. Their findings were supported by a study done on 28 healthy individuals who were asked to remember neutral, negative of pornographic images. According to Matthias Brand, head of the cognitive psychology department at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, “Results revealed worse working memory performance in the pornographic picture condition.”

One of the things I talked about in the masturbation article was the release of a hormone called prolactin after intercourse. Prolactin is important because it helps our brains offset the release of dopamine that can desensitize our brains. Dr. John Grohol explains, “The hormone prolactin makes us feel satiated by countering the effect of dopamine, which is released during sexual arousal.” Too much dopamine in our brains can lead to a drug addiction-like response, no matter what the activity is. So, the fact that our brains release up to 400% as much prolactin when having sex over masturbation keeps our brains from developing that dopamine desensitization.

Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information, Science Direct, I Heart Intelligence

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