Addiction Solution Source

Brain Scans Reveal Cause of Smokers’ Cravings

April 24th, 2007 · No Comments

This information about smokers cravings was recently released from Duke University:

Brain scans of smokers studied by the researchers revealed three specific regions deep within the brain that appear to control dependence on nicotine and craving for cigarettes. These regions play important roles in some of the key motivations for smoking: to calm down when stressed, to achieve pleasure and to help concentration.

“If you can’t calm down, can’t derive pleasure and can’t control yourself or concentrate, then it will be extremely difficult for you to break the habit,” said lead study investigator Jed E. Rose, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research. “These brain regions may explain why most people try to quit several times before they are successful.”

In this study, the researchers manipulated the levels of nicotine dependence and cigarette craving among 15 smokers and then scanned their brains using positron emission tomography, or PET scans, to see which areas of the brain were most active.

Three Regions of the Brain are Important for Smokers

Three specific regions of the brain demonstrated changes in activity when the smokers craved cigarettes versus when they did not.

One region that lights up, called the thalamus, is considered to be the key relay point for sensory information flowing into the brain. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal among people trying to quit stem from the inability to focus thoughts and the feeling of being overwhelmed, and could thus be explained by changes in this region, according to the researchers. The researchers found that changes in this region were most dramatic among those who said they smoked to calm down when under stress.

Another region that lights up is a part of the pleasure system of the brain. Changes in this region, called the striatum, were most notable in people who smoked to satisfy craving and for pleasurable relaxation, the researchers said.

A third region that lights up, called the anterior cingulate cortex, is vital to cognitive functions such as conflict, self regulation, decision making and emotion. People whose brain scans showed the most differences in this region also reported that they smoked to manage their weight.

“This knowledge gives us new clues about brain mechanisms underlying addiction to cigarettes and could allow us design better methods to help smokers quit,” Rose said.

Rose and his colleagues are now planning to perform brain scans on smokers undergoing nicotine replacement therapy, such as the nicotine patch, to determine how the addiction treatment affects the same regions of the brain.

More information: http://www.dukemednews.org/news/article.php?id=10028

Update on Stop Smoking Program that is successful: stop-smoking-alternative-that-is-successful

 

Tags: Drugs and Brain Disorders · Smoking - Nicotine Addiction

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

*