Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Text messaging may help smokers break the habit: Studies demonstrate brain activity link and use a new technology to monitor smoking

Date:
March 9, 2011
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
New studies have isolated the brain regions most active in controlling urges to smoke and demonstrated the effectiveness of text-messaging to measure and intervene in those urges.

A pair of related studies on smoking cessation by researchers at the University of Oregon and other institutions have isolated the brain regions most active in controlling urges to smoke and demonstrated the effectiveness of text-messaging to measure and intervene in those urges.

Related Articles


Both projects used the same group of test subjects -- 27 heavy smokers recruited from the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking program in Los Angeles.

Elliot Berkman, professor of psychology at the UO, and colleagues Emily Falk at the University of Michigan and Matthew Lieberman at UCLA, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the first study to map areas of the brain in which impulse control battles are fought. They described kicking an unwanted habit such as smoking as "a war that consists of a series of momentary self-control skirmishes."

Their paper -- published online this month in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychological Science -- indicates that individuals' abilities to inhibit their responses to cravings can be predicted through fMRI testing. That means it may be possible to tailor smoking cessation programs to individuals' response-inhibition capacities.

"We are really excited about this result because it means that the brain activation we see in the scanner is predictive of real-world outcomes across a much longer time span that we thought," Berkman said. "The tasks that we use in the laboratory are simplified models of these real-world processes -- but they seem to be valid models."

The second study -- also by Berkman, Falk and Lieberman, along with Janna Dickenson of UCLA and posted online in advance of publication in the journal Health Psychology -- tested short message service (SMS) text messaging "as a user-friendly and low-cost option for ecologically measuring real-time health behaviors." Research participants were prompted by eight text messages per day for three weeks to document their ongoing cravings, mood and cigarette use.

The research showed that text messaging is at least as effective as more expensive and harder-to-use handheld data collection devices in the "brief interval assessment" of people in smoking cessation programs. The palmtop devices typically used for what smoking cessation researchers call "ecological momentary assessment" can cost more than $300 each, while 86 percent of U.S. residents already have cell phones and 91 percent of those are SMS-enabled.

"Text messaging may be an ideal delivery mechanism for tailored interventions because it is low-cost, most people already possess the existing hardware and the messages can be delivered near-instantaneously into real world situations," said the study, which is scheduled to appear this week in Health Psychology, the journal of the American Psychological Association.

The study also confirmed earlier findings that monitoring smoking cessation participants at regular intervals -- whether by text messaging or through the use of other hand-held devices -- helps to eliminate "memory biases" that are common when cravings and outcomes are reported only on a daily basis. Its findings corroborate those of other studies that have indicated the importance of rapid, real-time measurement of smoking urges and resistance to them.

Text message monitoring of the Los Angeles smoking cessation participants was also a key element in the study by Berkman and his colleagues of the three brain regions that are most involved in response inhibition -- the right inferior frontal gyrus, the pre-supplementary motor area and the basal ganglia.

In that study, the smokers initially were asked to perform a simple self-control task as an fMRI machine scanned their brains' activity. They were next given lung and urine tests to determine the physical extent of their tobacco addictions, and were asked about their cravings and smoking patterns. Then they began the smoking cessation program, and were asked to respond to text message prompts eight times per day for three weeks.

The study concluded that those participants who had shown the most activity in the key regions of their brains during testing were also the most likely to resist their cravings to smoke -- which was documented in their text message responses.

"A big question that motivates my research is: How can we effectively use neuroimaging to learn something about long-term goals like smoking session?" Berkman said. "Using fMRI together with daily text messaging seems to be an excellent way to address that question."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. E. T. Berkman, E. B. Falk, M. D. Lieberman. In the Trenches of Real-World Self-Control: Neural Correlates of Breaking the Link Between Craving and Smoking. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611400918
  2. E. T. Berkman, J. Dickenson, E. B. Falk, M. D. Lieberman. Using SMS text messaging to assess moderators of smoking reduction: Validating a new tool for ecological measurement of health behaviors. Health Psychology, 2011; (in press)

Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "Text messaging may help smokers break the habit: Studies demonstrate brain activity link and use a new technology to monitor smoking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308101541.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2011, March 9). Text messaging may help smokers break the habit: Studies demonstrate brain activity link and use a new technology to monitor smoking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308101541.htm
University of Oregon. "Text messaging may help smokers break the habit: Studies demonstrate brain activity link and use a new technology to monitor smoking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308101541.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins