Neurobiology of Sex Addiction

Sex AddictionSex addiction is a crucial topic and when anybody has taken time to read very post about it, it is only prudent that I simplify everything and walk along with everyone as know about the neurobiology of sex addiction. This is really necessary as not very person who suffers from sex addiction can understand medicine jargons. To begin with;

What is Neurobiology?

This is the study of cells of the nervous system and how these cells are organized into functional circuits that helps in processing information and influence behaviors. Neurobiology is a sub unit of both biology and neuroscience. In comparison, neuroscience is broader as a scientific study of the nervous system than neurobiology.

The nervous system is very essential in the body owing to its vital functions. Firstly let’s delve into the functions of the neurons that we may validate its relevance in this topic of sex addiction. The neurons are cells that are specialized to receive, propagate, and transmit electrochemical impulses to initiate certain responses that are important for optimum functioning of the body. The human brain has neurons that amount to more than billions. The neurons are specialized to perform different functions; they are also diverse in morphology.

The nervous system is very important owing to its many function, it is therefore essential that it remains healthy all the time as any disorder may affect it negatively and culminate into more serious or even fatal conditions. Anytime there is a defect in the neurotransmitters the person must suffer the effects. Contrary to what people think, imbalances in the neurotransmitters never affect the health of a person only but also it influences the behaviors of a person.

Neurobiological disorders refer to diseases of the nervous system and they may be caused by genetic, metabolic and other biological factors. Most of the disorders termed as psychiatric disorders are neurobiological. They include but not limited to; autism, obsessive-compulsive disorders, Tourette syndrome, bipolar disorders and even schizophrenia. These disorders are common and can affect anybody, it is advisable to adopt good nutrition and avoid substances that may deplete the neurons and interfere with the proper functioning of the nervous system. In this post we will look at the changes or imbalance in the nervous system that may lead to sex addiction and how sex addiction relates to these neurotransmitters.

Neurobiology of sex addiction

For there to be an effective approach in sex addiction treatment, there has to be a detailed understanding of how the compulsive behavior affects the brain. This has led to many researchers to establish the link. In a research done by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, a study that looked into brain activity in nineteen male patients affected by compulsive sexual behavior and then compared them to the same number of healthy controls. The patients that participated in this research study had begun watching pornography at early stages in their lives as opposed to the healthy volunteers.

Dr. Valerie Voon, a Welcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow at the University of Cambridge explained that the patients had been suffering from lack of control of their sexual desires and acts and this had exposed them to adverse consequences that were weighing them down, ruining their lives and relationships. The doctor further observed that these patients exhibited the characteristics similar to those who from drug addictions. Part of the research goals was to show if there were similarities in the brain activity of sex addicts and drug addicts.

For this study, were shown videos some of which were sexually explicit while others were just sport videos, their brain activity was thereafter monitored by the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which uses a blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal to measure brain activity.

The researchers found that three regions in particular were more active in the brains of the people with compulsive sexual behavior compared with the healthy volunteers. Considerably, these regions; the ventral striatum, dorsal anterior cingulate and amygdala were regions that are also particularly activated in drug addicts when shown drug stimuli. The ventral striatum is the part of brain that is involved in processing reward and motivation, while the dorsal anterior cingulate is implicated in anticipating rewards and drug craving. The amygdala is involved in processing the significance of events and emotions.

Brain activity mirrors in sex addiction is similar to that in drug addiction

When the patients were asked to rate their level of desire after watching the explicit sexual videos, they showed higher levels of sexual desire but when asked when they liked them, they didn’t rate them high an indication that they watch porn compulsively but they really don’t like watching porn. This phenomenon is similar to drug addicts who do drugs but they don’t like doing it. Their desire was also correlated with higher interactions between regions within the network identified with greater cross-talk between the dorsal cingulate, ventral striatum and amygdala for explicit as compared to sports videos.

SEx AddictionThe researchers verified that the brain activity of those who are addicted to sex is similar to the brain activity of patents who are addicted to drugs and other substances.

“There are clear differences in brain activity between patients who have compulsive sexual behavior and healthy volunteers. These differences mirror those of drug addicts,” concludes Dr. Voon.

There is need to restore the chemical balances in the brain for a successful addiction treatment. At AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center we have made it our priority to ensure that every addict has a place he can call on and find a lasting help. Call on Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for help.

Neurobiology of Sex Addiction