Researchers from Duke University School of Medicine published the results of a smoking-related study in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal on May 13th.
The results of their study indicate that they might have found the blueprint for further investigations on smoking addiction and success practices. This study was conducted on a pool of 85 smokers. For one month before they were asked to quit, the researcher used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take scans of the smokers’ brain. These were later compared to the MRI images from the follow-up period of 10 weeks.
In the case of the 44 smokers who successfully quit, the research team discovered that the MRI imaging exhibited a highly functional link between the insula (part of the cerebral cortex) and the somatosensory cortex. The former is activating cravings and urges, while the latter coordinates motor control, as well the sense of touch. For the 41 smokers who gave in to the habit once more, the insula appeared activated in the images. However, they did not exhibit the same synchrony between the insula and the somatosensory cortex.
Merideth Addicott, lead author of the study explained:
“Simply put, the insula is sending messages to other parts of the brain that then make the decision to pick up a cigarette or not”.
In light of these results, researchers commented that those who managed to kick the habit are in fact neurologically hardwired for success. For a certain part of the smoking population it is hard to quit despite the nicotine replacement therapies or any variety of smoking cessation aids they might have tried.
Data provided by the American Cancer Society suggests that only 4 to 7 percent of the smokers who attempt quitting are successful. With smokers’ numbers at 17 percent of the adult population and 10 percent of the youth, the United States registers approximately 480,000 smoking-related deaths yearly.
Therefore, news of scientific research that paves the way to understanding how the brain really works when addiction is concerned is welcome.
Image Source: benefits.mt.gov