Pornographic Picture Processing Interferes with Working Memory Performance
By Christian Laiera (Department of General Psychology: Cognition, University of Duisburg--Essen), Frank P. Schultea & Matthias Branda (Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
Some individuals report problems during and after Internet sex engagement, such as missing sleep and forgetting appointments, which are associated with negative life consequences.
One mechanism potentially leading to these kinds of problems is that sexual arousal during Internet sex might interfere with working memory (WM) capacity, resulting in a neglect of relevant environmental information and therefore
disadvantageous decision making.
In this study, 28 healthy individuals performed 4 experimental manipulations of a pictorial 4-back WM task with neutral, negative, positive, or pornographic stimuli. Participants also rated 100 pornographic pictures with respect
to sexual arousal and indicated masturbation urges previous to and following pornographic picture presentation.
Results revealed worse WM performance in the pornographic picture condition of the 4-back task compared with the three remaining picture conditions. Furthermore, hierarchical regression analysis indicated an explanation of variance
of the sensitivity in the pornographic picture condition by the subjective rating of the pornographic pictures as well as by a moderation effect of masturbation urges.
Results contribute to the view that indicators of sexual arousal due to pornographic picture processing interfere with WM performance. Findings are discussed with respect to Internet sex addiction because WM interference by addiction-related
cues is well known from substance dependencies.