DUISBURG, Germany, December 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen have found that viewing pornography has a significant negative effect on a man’s ability to complete short-term memory tasks that are important for understanding, reasoning, problem solving and decision making.

“Some individuals report problems during and after Internet sex engagement, such as missing sleep and forgetting appointments, which are associated with negative life consequences,” the introduction to the research report states.

In the study the researchers subjected 28 healthy heterosexual men with an average age of 26 to a series of images in categories of neutral, negative, positive, or pornographic.

As the men viewed the pictures, they touched a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ key to indicate whether the current picture was the same as one they had seen four slides previously, which the researchers termed a “4-back working memory task.”

The study found a significantly greater number of incorrect answers when the men viewed the pornographic images than when they saw the nonsexual images.

The men scored an average of 80 percent correct answers when viewing the neutral, negative or positive images. This dropped to 67 percent correct answers when viewing pornography.

According to the research team, headed by psychology graduate student Christian Laier, the findings of their study are consistent with research on working memory interference due to other forms of addiction such as drugs and alcohol, and may help psychologists understand why viewing porn results in “a neglect of relevant environmental information and therefore disadvantageous decision making.”

“Sexual arousal interferes with working memory, an important facet of executive functioning,” Laier wrote. “Sexual arousal and its impacts on cognitive processes might explain parts of these negative effects.”

Research into “Erotic Visual Stimuli” published earlier this year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that viewing pornography actually shuts down part of the brain, the primary visual cortex, that researchers describe as playing “a vital role in basic survival mechanisms in humans,” in order to increase blood supply to the brain regions involved in sexual arousal.

The University of Duisburg-Essen research report was published in the November edition of the Journal of Sex Research.

An abstract of the study, titled “Pornographic Picture Processing Interferes with Working Memory Performance” is available here.