Why Is This Important?
Because if you were able to kick that nasty habit, there may be a lot more you’re capable of as well.
Long Story Short
A new study has found “greater connectivity among certain brain regions in people who successfully quit smoking compared to those who tried and failed” that may hard-wire them for success.
A new study has found that smokers who quit the habit successfully tend to display greater connectivity between two regions of the brain that may hard-wire them for success in general.
During the study, which was published in Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers analyzed the MRI scans of 85 patients one month before they attempted to quit smoking. The researchers tracked the participants’ efforts to stop smoking over a ten-week period. Out of the 85, 41 smokers relapsed and 44 quit successfully (an interesting fact in itself…)
All 44 smokers who quit successfully had one thing in common: “better synchrony (coordinated activity) between the insula, home to urges and cravings, and the somatosensory cortex, a part of the brain that is central to our sense of touch and motor control.”
“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,” said Merideth Addicott, Ph.D., assistant professor at Duke and lead author of the study.
Researchers believe that the insula is the key to understanding cigarette addiction. According to Science Daily, “other studies have found that smokers who suffer damage to the insula appear to spontaneously lose interest in smoking.”
“Our data…suggests that targeting connectivity between insula and somatosensory cortex could be a good strategy [in developing cessation interventions with respect to smoking],” said Joseph McClernon, Ph.D., associate professor at Duke and the study’s senior author.
“If we can increase connectivity in smokers to look more like those who quit successfully, that would be a place to start.”
Own The Conversation
Ask The Big Question: Will scientists be able to re-wire brains prone to addiction?
Disrupt Your Feed: If you’re capable of quitting smoking, your brain may be on your side for other endeavors as well.
Drop This Fact: Smoking rates are generally five times higher amongst men than women.