Whether You Will Quit Smoking or Not is Hardwired in Your Brain: STUDY

By Staff Reporter - 14 May '15 01:14AM

Anyone who has tried to quit smoking knows how hard it can be to kick the habit. However, a new study found that some people have greater connectivity among certain brain regions compared to those who tried and failed.

The evidence suggests some people are better at overriding craving signals from the insula brain region urging them to light up another cigarette.

Lead scientist Dr Merideth Addicott, from Duke University in North Carolina, US, said: "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."

Previous research has found that the insula is active when smokers crave cigarettes, and that smokers who suffer damage to the insula lose interest in smoking.

While more research is required to understand how this connection works and why it affects smoking as it does, McClernon believes that neurofeedback and transcranial magnetic stimulation has a huge role in the ability to quit.

"There's a general agreement in the field that the insula is a key structure with respect to smoking, and that we need to develop cessation interventions that specifically modulate insula function," study senior author Joseph McClernon, an associate professor at Duke, said in the news release.

"We have provided a blueprint [for smoking cessation treatment]," McClernon said. "If we can increase connectivity in smokers to look more like those who quit successfully, that would be a place to start. We also need more research to understand what it is exactly about greater connectivity between these regions that increases the odds of success."

The study was published May 13 in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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