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The Gray Areas of Gray Matter

The Gray Areas of Gray Matter | Women: Relationships, alcohol, porn, lesbians, masturbation, swinging, fantasy, female sex predators and orgasm | Scoop.it


"Neuroimaging is pretty cool, but it can’t do what its most enthusiastic boosters claim."

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Sexual desire, not hypersexuality, is related to neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images

Sexual desire, not hypersexuality, is related to neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images | Women: Relationships, alcohol, porn, lesbians, masturbation, swinging, fantasy, female sex predators and orgasm | Scoop.it

"This study was designed to determine whether sexual desire level alone, or a cluster of symptoms unique to hypersexuality, predict neural reactivity to sexual stimuli."

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Via Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT
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Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT's curator insight, July 23, 2013 12:18 AM

Curator comment: This is really three stories in one:

  1. the article itself;
  2. the reaction it has generated in the professional community;
  3. the way it has been sensationalized worldwide in the last week.


There is so much going on in all three of these dimensions that it will take more than one brief note to make sense of it all.  To start from the outside in, here are some headlines appearing the last few days, showing the entire spectrum of reporting:

  • "New Study Questions If Sex Addiction is Real"
  • "Scans of Sex Addixts' Brains Call Diagnosis into Question"
  • "Sex Addicts Not Technically Addicts: Study"
  • "New Study Undermines Sex Addiction"
  • "Brain Scans Suggest That Sex Addiction Doesn't Exist"
  • "Sex Addiction: Not a Disease Any More"
  • "Hypersexuality is Not a Real Disorder"
  • "UCLA Study Says Sex Addiction Isn't a Real Disorder"
  • "Watching Porn Does Not Mean You're a Sex Addict"
  • "Neuroscientists Reveal Why Sex Addiction Isn't a Real Disorder"
  • "Sex Addiction is Fake, Study Shows"
  • "Study Asks If Sex Addiction Real Disorder or Just Some Sleazy Excuse"

Numerous articles have cropped up online with phrases such as:"Listen up, gals. Quit hiding behind that fake diagnosis of sex addiction. It turns out your mother was right all along. You’re just a ho."


One news source put it this way:  "Sex addiction is not a mental illness, as is often believed. Rather, it’s caused by a high libido. This has been proved scientifically for the first time by researchers at the University of California....."


The study "proved" no such thing, nor claimed that it did. In essence, it showed photographs, including those of a sexual nature, to a group of people who self-identified as meeting criteria for a proposed hypersexuality disorder, and found that their EEG readings did not respond as the researchers anticipated.   The entire article is available for review.  


Here's an interview with one of the investigators that goes into the design, findings and conclusions in more depth.


Not surprisingly, critiques that call into question various aspects of the study are beginning to appear. Many of them are happening in professional online discussion groups that cannot be curated.  But others are starting to be available online, with more surely to come.  

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Hypersexuality following septal injury

Hypersexuality following septal injury | Women: Relationships, alcohol, porn, lesbians, masturbation, swinging, fantasy, female sex predators and orgasm | Scoop.it

"Hypersexuality is an uncommon consequence of brain injury. We report two cases of markedly increased sexual activity following septal damage sustained in the course of placement of ventriculoperitoneal shunts. These two cases, observations in animal experiments, and descriptions of altered behavior in humans with localized brain dysfunction indicate that a circuit involving the septal nuclei has an important role in the mediation of sexual behavior."


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Critque of Prause Study

Critque of Prause Study | Women: Relationships, alcohol, porn, lesbians, masturbation, swinging, fantasy, female sex predators and orgasm | Scoop.it

"This.....study at its foundation does not address the issue of whether individuals seeking help for sex addiction, hypersexuality, etc. are experiencing a legitimate problem. It asks whether an addiction theory is the best explanation for this problem or whether there are alternative explanations that help us better understand this phenomenon. That’s it! "

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Via Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT
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Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT's curator insight, July 23, 2013 9:40 PM

Curator comment:  Amid a torrent of commentary that has generally been casting more heat than light on the subject, this comprehensive analysis of the recent research article that has been garnering so much attention over the last few days (see the curation and commentary) is a welcome addition to the conversation.

Gary Wilson's comment, August 20, 2013 11:15 AM
This Rory Reid "critique," is actually a veiled defense of the Nicole Prause study, and much of it responds to grave concerns we raised in this post: "UCLA's SPAN Lab Touts Empty Porn Study As Ground-Breaking" - http://pornstudyskeptics.blogspot.com/2013/07/uclas-span-lab-touts-empty-porn-study.html
Unfortunately, Reid's critique does not adequately address the concerns we raised, as explained in this reply post "Rory Reid Reply & Our Response." http://pornstudyskeptics.blogspot.com/2013/07/reidprause-reply-our-response.html
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Hypersexuality from resection of left occipital arteriovenous malformation

Hypersexuality from resection of left occipital arteriovenous malformation | Women: Relationships, alcohol, porn, lesbians, masturbation, swinging, fantasy, female sex predators and orgasm | Scoop.it

"The authors report their experience on one patient with hypersexuality from resection of left occipital arteriovenous malformation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case reported in the literature. A 35-year-old right-handed female farmer suffered a sudden left occipital hemorrhage with subarachnoid and subdural hemorrhages of the left hemisphere. Transient left uncal herniation occurred at the onset and was released by conservative treatment. Digital subtraction angiography showed a brain left occipital arteriovenous malformation. After microsurgical resection of the arteriovenous malformation, the patient developed hypersexual behavior. Positron emission tomography showed hypermetabolism in the left frontal region and left posterior hippocampal gyrus and hypometabolism in the left anterior hippocampal gyrus and the left occipital surgical area. Theories concerning normal pressure perfusion breakthrough and specific areas in the brain responsible for the human sexual response are discussed."

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