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Sex addiction in celebrity news isn’t a new thing.

For example, you probably remember David Duchovny’s struggle with sex addiction, but did you know Michael Douglas is supposedly a self-proclaimed recovering sex addict as well?

Yet, big names like Tiger Woods and Jesse James have made talk about sex addiction (or the possibility of sex addiction, or, even “Can’t Keep It In Your Pants-itis,” a name many skeptics probably feel is more appropriate for most celebrity and non-celebrity cases) pretty prevalent over the past year.

And now, thanks to a team of Canadian researchers, all that talk isn’t just gossip or speculation.

According to new research by Lique Coolen (Canada Research Chair in the Neurobiology of Motivation and Reward) and colleagues, there seems to be a link between damage to the prefrontal cortex and compulsive actions like – you guessed it – the kind of sexual behavior we associate with “sex addicts.”

In a study that will be published in the next issue of Biology Psychiatry, Coolen, who is also a professor in the department of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Western Ontario in London, shows findings that rats with a damaged prefrontal cortex will become “compulsive sex seekers.”

Coolen also says that although they’re cautious when it comes to drawing parallels between rats and humans, hyper-sexuality shouldn’t be getting the “bad press” it’s attracted:

My concern is with all these celebrities claiming they have sex addiction. I read the newspaper just like everyone else. A first gut reaction is to say, ‘Oh, come on, this is just an excuse that people are using.’

I think that that really damages or hurts people who really truly suffer from hyper-sexuality. They may feel even more inhibited to talk to their physicians about it.

I’m not sure what Coolen meant there — what that second “that” stands for — but it sounds like what was meant was that the celebrities claiming to have sex addiction and causing this sort of “yeah, okay, whatever” public opinion are hurting the people who actually do have it — or, something similar to it.

Which leads me to wonder…once they’re a bit deeper in this research, will Coolen and the Gang — and, eventually, your family doctor — be able to scan a person’s brain to see if there is damage to his or her prefrontal cortex (or an “irregularity or change in the expression of certain proteins, or changes in the connections between brain cells,” finding out about which is going to be one of the next steps in the research) that’s causing the sex addiction-esque behavior?

Are we headed toward a way of not only better understanding “sex addiction” but also determining whether a person really suffers from it?