Having Sex is Good for Your Memory But Watching Porn Isn't, So Go Get Laid Already

They say intelligence is sexy, but can sexiness breed intelligence? In a piece at the Atlantic, Dan Hurley explores how sex can make you smarter. In recent studies, scientists have found that sexual activity may actually trigger the brain to grow new cells (a process known as neurogenesis) in the region that handles memory. But just seeing sexual images, as with porn, can make it harder to recall information (no pun intended).  

Let's start with the good news: Sex makes you smarter. Or it makes mice and rats smarter, at least. In a study published in the journal Hippocampus last year, researchers from the University of Maryland reported that rats allowed to follow their sexual bliss showed signs of both improved memory and mental function. And another study, published in November 2013, found that having sex can protect mice's brains from the deleterious (and memory-robbing) effects of chronic stress. 

But interestingly, looking at images of sex may have the opposite effect. Though an earlier study linking porn to brain damage was roundly criticized, there is evidence that viewing porn can decrease working memory. A recent German study published in the Journal of Sex Research tested the working memory of 28 healthy adults by asking them to remember neutral, negative, positive, or pornographic images. Those who peeped the porn showed significantly worse memory performance. 

But don't worry: Researchers attribute this to sexual arousal short-circuiting short-term memory, rather than an indication of porn images causing permanent memory impairment. I'm guessing people asked to stop and remember images in the middle of real sex wouldn't have such hot working memory, either. 

Image: Bustle Stock Photo

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