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The National Council on Women ’ s Health Gender on the Brain Lecture Series THE IMPACT OF GENDER ON THE NEUROSCIENCE OF PORNOGRAPHY & SEXTING. The Neuroscience of Pornography, Sexting and the Internet. Pornography Definition Prevalence Exposure in Children Sexting demographics

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The Neuroscience of Pornography, Sexting and the Internet


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    1. The National Council on Women’s HealthGender on the Brain Lecture SeriesTHE IMPACT OF GENDERON THENEUROSCIENCEOFPORNOGRAPHY & SEXTING

    2. The Neuroscience of Pornography, Sexting and the Internet • Pornography • Definition • Prevalence • Exposure in Children • Sexting demographics • Gender differences • Neuroscience • Different brains, different genders • Brain imaging and pornography • Consequences • Short term - changes in sexual behavior • Long term - Epigenetics

    3. One Perspective • Pornography versus Erotica • “Pornography is about dominance and violence, erotica is about sex and mutual pleasure… we got across that rape is violence, not sex, but not yet that pornography is violence, not sex…” • “‘porne’ means female slaves, eros is love, mutuality, choice etc…” • “I just get depressed at the idea that women are told being against porn is being against sex -- when it's quite the contrary.” –Gloria Steinem

    4. Definitions (Webster’s) • PORNOGRAPHY • the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement • material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement • the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction • EROTICA • literary or artistic works having an erotic theme or quality • depictions of things erotic

    5. Internet Pornography • Here to stay • $10-14 billion spent in 2006 • Filters poorly effective • Data on effects may be skewed

    6. From a series of photographs in which models were asked to re-create scenes originally found on the Internet. (All models are, by the way, over 18.) NYMag 1/31/11

    7. Google trends - West Nile Virus

    8. Google Trends 9

    9. Internet Pornography- Statistics

    10. Internet Pornography- Statistics

    11. Internet Pornography- Statistics

    12. Internet Pornography - Statistics

    13. Internet Usage in Children • Norton Antivirus data 2009 • Top 5 searches: • youtube, google, facebook, sex & porn • porn # 25 for girls

    14. Internet Usage in Children • 13% of boys & 2% of girls search for SEWS

    15. Internet Pornography- Exposure • Survey of 429 Canadian students (13-14 yrs) • Anonymous • 74% via Internet • Rural boys more than urban • 90% of boys and 70% of girls • A third of boys access “too many times to count” • 8% of girls report similar access • Majority of deliberate viewing by boys • Deliberate viewing in girls- same-gender pairs Sonya Thompson 2003; U Alberta;

    16. Internet Pornography- Exposure 433 NYC adolescents at health center Anonymous survey 96% with Internet Access, 55% visited SEW Age 12-22; mean age 18 +/- 2 yrs; Average age coitarche 15 +/- 2 yrs 53% Hispanic, 43% Black, 5% White 86% of boys and 50% of girls visited SEW Reason for visits: Sexual curiosity (50%), information (17%), accidental exposure (46%) 59% of teens SEWs promote sex before teen is ready* 50% teens believe it promotes unprotected sex* Braun- Corville, Rojas; 2009; J Adolesc Health; *2001 Internet Study

    17. NYC Adolescent Survey Multiple partners (OR 1.8; CI 1.1-2.9) More than 1 partner in last 3 m (OR 1.8) Used alcohol/ other during sex (OR 2.8) Engaged in anal sex (OR 2.0) 20% had had anal sex overall Braun- Corville, Rojas; 2009; J Adolesc Health

    18. Sexting Demographics • 300 girls, tween website survey • Avg age getting sexts- 10; sending at 121 • 20% of teens sext2 • 1247 14-24 year olds - telephone survey3 • 30% sexted, a third sent sexts as a “joke” • Girls (13%) vs boys (9%) likely to nude sext • Legal implications 1Allykatz 2009; 2National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy;3AP/MTV 2009

    19. Sexting Demographics • National survey • 800 12-17 yo (60% of 12 yo own cell phones) • 4% send sexts, 15% receive messages. • 17% of those who pay their own bill send sexts compared with 3% of those who don’t • Sexting occurs- • 1) b/w two romantic partners • 2) exchanges b/w partners are shared outside • 3) exchanges b/w two people, where one is hoping to develop the relationship. Lenhart, A. (2009) Pew Internet & American Life Project.

    20. Different Sexes,Different Brains • Day old girls look at faces more, boys at mobiles • At 3-8 months of age, girls prefer dolls • Girl green vervet monkeys do also • Sex differences appear to be pre-hominid Bao & Scwaab, 2010

    21. Different Sexes- Different Brains Embryo, Week 4

    22. Different Sexes- Different Brains • Weeks 12-18 and weeks 34-41 • Brain sex differentiation • Brain grows weekly • Testosterone levels 10x higher in boys • This produces brain “programming” and “organizing” • Circuits “activated” at puberty • Sex differentiation of genitals much earlier than sex differentiation of brain Falgueras, 2010

    23. Different Sexes- Different Brains EMBRYO at WEEK SIX

    24. MiSU

    25. Brain Wiring

    26. Brain Areas Stimulated NIH

    27. Libido and the menstrual cycle • Testosterone highest at day 13 of menstrual cycle • After ovulation, testosterone drops • Progesterone rises, orgasm difficult • Progesterone “nesting” hormone

    28. Oxytocin and the Brain • The “love hormone” • Released during lactation • Released during any physical contact, including a hug • Released during foreplay, genital stimulation, orgasm • Trust and affiliative behavior • Consequences

    29. Shag Bands- decoded black-sex pink-flash yellow-big hug purple-kissclear-whatever snapper choosesgreen-fingering glow in the dark-sex toysglitter-girl chooses blue- blowjob Indigo- hand-job with blowjob

    30. Mirror Neurons and Porn • 12 hetero & 14 homosexual women and 12 hetero & 15 homsexual men • fMRIs German subjects in their twenties • Isolated aroused genitalia shown • Mirror neurons in brain activated • Subjects brains not just watching, were actually having sex • Activation of reward circuitry Ponseti et al, Neuroimage, 2006

    31. Mirror Neurons

    32. Different Sexes, different Brains • “A man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears.” • Woodrow Wyatt • 28 men and women volunteers • fMRI imaging • Viewed images of neutral couple images, nude opposite sex images, couple sex • Both sexes strongest activation during sex • Amygdala far more activated in men than women • True even when women reported greater arousal • Parallels animal findings Nature Neuroscience, 2004

    33. Different Sexes, Different Behavior • “the greater amygdalar activation in males… greater incentive value of visual sexual stimuli… either intrinsic or learned” • “Sexual stimuli may be processed differently from other appetitive stimuli..” • Left and right amygdala process emotions differently, differentially activated in the sexes • Another fMRI study- CS vs UCS, men increased activity compared to women Klucken et al, 2009; Nature Neuroscience 2004

    34. Brain Wiring

    35. Epigenetics • Can a parent’s early experiences modify the expression of genes in their children? • Epigenetic modulation of gene expression • Genome hardware, epigenetic software • Inheritance of phenotype vs genotype • Nature versus Nurture vs Nurture is Nature

    36. Epigenetics Epigenetics may be evolution of evolution Change in generations as opposed to change over millennia Human Genome 25,000 genes Human Epigenome – many more (Pembrey, 1996)

    37. Neuroepigenetics • Memory changes in mice • passed on to next generation • Cocaine induces epigenetic changes in mice • alters reward mechanism • leads to addiction • Mirror neuron study found reward systems invariably recruited J Neuroscience, 2009; Wang 2010

    38. Why Sex Ed? • American girls 4X more likely to get pregnant than German girls • American girls 5X more likely to have a baby than French girls • American girls 7X more likely to have an abortion than Dutch girls • American girls 5X more likely to be HIV+ than German girls • American girls 70X more likely to get gonorrhea than Dutch or French girls

    39. Putting it all together • Sex arises from the brain • Male brains are different from female brains • Pornography and sexting are here to stay and may have differential effects on girls and boys • Effects may be longer term • Research, education and dialogue crucial for understanding these phenomena