A small, preliminary new US study finds that people who think they are sex addicts may actually just have heightened libidos. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggest that "sex addition" may not be a physiological disorder after all, but a high sexual desire. Published in journal Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, the new study involved 39 men and 13 women who reported having trouble controlling their porn addiction. They first filled out four questionnaires covering various topics, including sexual behaviors, sexual desire, sexual compulsions, and the possible negative cognitive and behavioral outcomes of sexual behavior.
Participants had scores comparable to individuals seeking help for hypersexual problems, the researchers said. In the study, the subjects looked at both sexual and non-sexual images while scientists measured their neural responses using electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive technique that measures brain waves, the electrical activity generated by neurons when they communicate with each other.
When scientists looked at neurons firing in their brains, they couldn't see evidence of addiction, meaning that they couldn't track brain activity similar to that found in other addicts when using EEG. Their brain responses did, however, correlate with their levels of sexual desire, but not with the severity of their habitual porn viewing. "Potentially, this is an important finding," senior author Nicole Prause said. "It is the first time scientists have studied the brain responses specifically of people who identify as having hypersexual problems."