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Anti-porn rally aims at keeping sexualized ads out of community

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 9:10 p.m. MDT

When stress pathways are activated by the brain's amygdala, adrenaline and dopamine are released, explains Amy F.T. Arnsten, a professor of neurobiology and psychology at Yale, in a paper on the stress signaling pathways in the brain.

Not only do these chemicals, along with others, begin to teach the brain that this image was pleasurable and should be sought after again, but the overactive amygdala begins to take over the rest of the brain and hijack higher orders of mental functioning.

"Psychological stress … impairs (prefrontal cortex) regulation but strengthens amygdala function, thus setting up a ‘vicious cycle,’ ” Arnsten writes. "Stress impairs higher-order PFC abilities such as working memory and attention regulation."

Not exactly what parents want their child to be struggling with, says Brown.

"(We want) parents to wake up just a little bit (and realize) that these images really do have an impact on their kids," she said. "(We hope) they're more careful where they take them, what they're allowing to be shown in their homes. (We want to) wake up more parents to the science."

Parents need to understand that the prefrontal cortex is especially sensitive to changes brought on by chronic stress — like being bombarded with sexualized images.

While other parts of the brain may take weeks of exposure, parts of the prefrontal cortex can "begin to change after only a week of stress or possibly even a single exposure," Arnsten writes.

Which is why billboards, fliers and advertisements in the community have got to be kept in the non-sexualized realm.

"We're trying to protect our children, protect our families," Brown said. "We're asking for decency in our community and that (businesses) will adhere to our community standards."

Bountiful adopted a community standard of decency in December 2002, which "encourages a wholesome environment for children and families" and asks that businesses and institutions in the city "adopt child-appropriate standards."

"If people remain silent, they're … letting businesses and the purveyors of this material know that it's OK," Weiler said. "It's incumbent on each of us to stand up and speak out when we see something we think is inappropriate. We need more people willing to stand up and say, 'We're not going to tolerate this in our community.’ ”

sisraelsen@deseretnews.com

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