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Can Porn Use Affect Memory And Concentration?

Having a hard time focusing?

Contents:

Having a hard time focusing? Losing your things, forgetting stuff all the time? Difficulty stringing sentences together?

If you're nodding yes right now, you're not alone. A compulsive porn habit can have detrimental effects on some of your brain's most essential functions, and lots of guys are going through the same.

You might also be demotivated, like you just can't muster up the excitement for anything, and nothing gets you going (well, except porn). Then there’s the brain fog: a fuzzy head that’s slow and can't think straight.

It can be hard to see how this all connects to your porn use. Maybe you're pretty used to being a bit forgetful and lazy, flunking at school or with work; you just accept all that as... well, being “you”.

The fact is, a lot of guys are experiencing these symptoms and not realising it's to do with their porn habit. If you've been hooked on porn for a long time (many start tuning in aged as young as 10) then it'll be even harder to see the real cause – because you simply don't know yourself without these traits.

How can watching porn have such an impact? The answer lies in what addiction and arousal do to the brain.

What's going on in your brain?

If someone had told you years ago that watching porn would become an addiction, and that it would affect your...

  • Self control
  • Impulse control
  • Judgement
  • Ability to delay gratification
  • Willpower
  • Concentration
  • Memory

You'd probably have given it a miss, right?

These are the brain's executive functions, and they're directly impacted by addiction. The prefrontal cortex is the brain's control tower for these functions, and dopamine is its main messenger.

Put simply, when you repeatedly overstimulate the brain with porn, the brain mistakes it for a reward essential to your survival, and dopamine release goes into overdrive. Your brain then becomes less sensitive to dopamine, and your reserves of this neurotransmitter also start running low.

'Decreased dopamine signalling in the brain’s reward circuitry is a hallmark of all addictions.' Gary Wilson

Plus, in the brain of an addict, the number of D2 receptors (whose job is to send dopamine to the prefrontal cortex) starts to decrease.

D2 receptors are then not able to get crucial dopamine to the prefrontal control tower fast enough. The result of this is you feeling foggy headed, indecisive, and easily distracted.

This partly explains why it feels like your life starts to fall apart with addiction. Not only is it down to you relentlessly chasing the high; a big part of it is the effect of the addiction on your executive functions.

Feeling demotivated? Here's why

When was the last time you actually finished a book?

Dopamine is the 'go-get-it' neurotransmitter, i.e your chemical source of motivation. So when you're low on the stuff and it's not being pumped around your brain efficiently enough, it's common to fall into a bit of a slump. Low dopamine levels are linked with a lack of motivation, and even depression.

Then there's the knock-on effect of habitual porn use: You stay up late watching porn, this gets you stimulated, meaning you have trouble sleeping, which leads to a low mood, lethargy and laziness the next day. The consequence of this cycle? Your performance at work, school, and life in general starts to suffer.

In fact, a study taken over 6 months has shown a direct link between an increase in teenage boys' porn use and a decrease in their school grades.

Natasha Connell on Unsplash

Easily tempted, mind going astray..?

Too little dopamine in the brain hinders your ability to delay gratification. What does that look like in real life?

A porn trigger pops up on your laptop, and you tell yourself you'll only reward yourself with some porn after you finish that assignment... We all know what happens next. You give in to the urge, hit the porn, and the assignment gets abandoned.

The reason: the prefrontal cortex is also involved in the brain's reward circuitry, so a lack of D2 receptors sending signals to this part of the brain also causes a glitch in our response to rewards.

It’s also been proven that porn addicts make more impulsive choices, and display less mental flexibility after watching porn.

This can make your habit a whole lot worse. With how accessible porn is, the problem snowballs: if you can't say no to instant gratification, you're going to be engaging with porn nonstop, and that gets you even more hooked.

Being unable to delay gratification also has a backlash on concentration, as you just won't be able to stop thinking about that thing you want to be doing... instead of focusing on the thing you are doing. And this means you're going to be struggling to get things done, regardless of how important the task in front of you is.

Source link

A huge number of guys feel like they wanked away their degree or career to porn. For more on this topic check out this TED talk with Philip Zimbardo where he gives the lowdown on how porn use is impacting guys' success at school and at work:

The Demise of Guys | Phillip Zimbardo


How is your memory affected?

Working memory capacity (WMC) is another function in the prefrontal cortex, and it plays an important role in your short term memory.

Working memory is the type of memory which helps you to multitask; it's the ability to retain relevant information while completing a task, or as you get busy with something else.

This makes it key to working towards goals: a healthy WMC will help you resist distraction and not act on impulses, affecting how well you learn new things, set goals and stick to them. So that's yet another reason why guys hooked on porn find themselves forgetting appointments, losing stuff, and not being able to keep up with work.

‘I look back at the first 2 weeks of classes, and I can't remember a single thing my professors were going over. It was like my mind was completely wiped during the time I was fapping. Never do it boys. Never do it. - source link

Scientists have recently proven that tuning into porn can have an immediate effect on your working memory too, meaning it's not just to do with addiction. It’s the extreme levels of arousal that play a role: the more men feel aroused by porn, the more their WMC functionality decreases.

WMC is also a key player in decision making: if you're not able to retain environmental information for long, then you'll struggle to find the pieces for the mental jigsaw puzzle of that decision you need to make.

Lastly, dopamine not only affects the function of your WMC, but it's also needed to increase its capacity. Meaning if you're dopamine deficient you're gonna have a hard time improving your memory... Which sucks, right? So the only solution really, is you quitting the porn.

What happens when you quit?

The effect the addiction had on your brain will actually become more clear when you quit porn. It's a bit like when you finally get your bike fixed: it's only once it's riding smooth and effortlessly again that you realise how bad a state it was in. You'd just got used to cycling being a hard slog, because you'd forgotten how smooth and breezy it could be.

The good news here is: you haven't lost your brainpower for good. Amazingly, some guys who had been diagnosed with ADHD find that the symptoms of their condition disappear after they reboot. Meaning porn was the problem after all.

As you reboot, you'll start to feel more clear-headed, your mind will sharpen, and you'll find you're better at remembering things, and better at completing tasks.

It’s a bit like when your laptop is playing up, you probably go for the classic trick of rebooting by switching it off and on again. When you quit porn, you're effectively rebooting your brain. As you hit that restart button in your brain, the cognitive functions that were lagging get refreshed, and your operating system starts running smoothly again.

An extra bonus: with dopamine firing up your prefrontal cortex properly, you'll be feeling more quick-witted, and so your social confidence will improve (and quite likely your dating game will get a boost too).


I DID A STREAK OF 130 DAYS OF NOFAP: after like 1 month or so I began to gain confidence and I was full of life! I felt so great, I was really successful at work and when I spoke to people I wasn’t nervous anymore and I could follow every conversation. Studying is not so difficult anymore, I was CALM and I could THINK STRAIGHT. Girls noticed me a lot more and they really liked me a lot more [...] also cured from ED!’ - Reddit user

Hong Nguyen on Unsplash

The number of guys reporting these improvements (and others) as they reboot should be enough to get you out of your porn-induced slump and ready to quit. If you're not there yet, read this for some more incentives to get you off porn for good, and download Remojo to start your rebooting journey.



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