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Monday Watercooler


Tonight’s music video is “I know it’s true” by Sniper 66. Thanks to James Roberts for the suggestion.

Two rats in a jar, peeking their heads out

Step 1: Smarter rats. Step 2: Try to take over the world.

The Atlantic reports that sexual activity seems to promote growth of brain cells — at least in rats.

Researchers in Maryland and South Korea recently found that sexual activity in mice and rats improves mental performance and increases neurogenesis (the production of new neurons) in the hippocampus, where long-term memories are formed.

In April, a team from the University of Maryland reported that middle-aged rats permitted to engage in sex showed signs of improved cognitive function and hippocampal function. In November, a group from Konkuk University in Seoul concluded that sexual activity counteracts the memory-robbing effects of chronic stress in mice. ‘Sexual interaction could be helpful,’ they wrote, ‘for buffering adult hippocampal neurogenesis and recognition memory function against the suppressive actions of chronic stress.’

So growing brain cells through sex does appear to have some basis in scientific fact. But there’s some debate over whether fake sex—pornography—could be harmful. Neuroscientists from the University of Texas recently argued that excessive porn viewing, like other addictions, can result in permanent ‘anatomical and pathological’ changes to the brain. That view, however, was quickly challenged in a rebuttal from researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, who said that the Texans ‘offered little, if any, convincing evidence to support their perspectives. Instead, excessive liberties and misleading interpretations of neuroscience research are used to assert that excessive pornography consumption causes brain damage.’

Whether or not porn ‘addiction’ literally damages the brain, even brief viewing of pornographic images does interfere with people’s ‘working memory’—the ability to mentally juggle and pay attention to multiple items. A study published last October in the Journal of Sex Research 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,’ concluded Matthias Brand, head of the cognitive psychology department at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.

Thanks to Rachel Hurley for this link.

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Photo by Staffan Vilcans released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and