Sex can make you smarter but porn can make you dumber, study suggests

First, the good news: a new study shows sex might make you smarter, as suggested by recent research in Maryland and South Korea.

The researchers found sexual activity in mice and rats improved mental performance and increased the production of new neurons in the hippocampus where long-term memories are formed, The Atlantic reported.

“Sexual interaction could be helpful for buffering adult hippocampal neurogenesis (production of new neurons in the hippocampus) and recognition memory function against the suppressive actions of chronic stress,” it quoted them as saying.

It said the team from the University of Maryland reported in April that middle-aged rats that engage in sex showed signs of improved cognitive function and hippocampal function.

A study in Konkuk University in Seoul found sexual activity counteracts the memory-robbing effects of chronic stress in mice, The Atlantic added.

Now, the bad news: research showed fake sex such as porn via computer may have the opposite effect, The Atlantic said.

It said neuroscientists from the University of Texas argued excessive porn viewing can result in permanent “anatomical and pathological” changes to the brain.

But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles challenged that finding, saying it "offered little, if any, convincing evidence to support their perspectives."

Still, The Atlantic noted even short viewing of pornographic images indeed interferes with people’s “working memory” or the ability to mentally juggle and pay attention to multiple items.

It cited a study published last October in the Journal of Sex Research that tested the working memory of 28 healthy individuals when they were asked to keep track of neutral, negative, positive, or pornographic stimuli.

“Results revealed worse working memory performance in the pornographic picture condition,” it quoted Matthias Brand, head of the cognitive psychology department at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, as saying.

But The Atlantic also noted it may take much more than sex to being smart.

It quoted Tracey J. Shors, a psychologist at the Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University, as saying only effortful, successful learning increases brain cells' survival.

"You can make new cells with exercise, Prozac and sex. If you do mental training, you’ll keep alive more cells that you produced. And if you do both, now you have the best of both worlds — you’re making more cells and keeping more alive," it quoted her as saying she said at a meeting on “Cognitive Enhancers” at the Society for Neuroscience in 2012. — TJD, GMA News 

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