Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain imaging demonstrates that former smokers have greater willpower than smokers

Date:
April 27, 2011
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
A new study compares former smokers to current smokers, and obtains insight into how to quit smoking might be discovered by studying the brains of those who have successfully managed to do so.

A study, completed by researchers from Trinity College and the Research Institute for a Tobacco Free Society, Dublin, Ireland, compares former smokers to current smokers, and obtains insight into how to quit smoking might be discovered by studying the brains of those who have successfully managed to do so.

Functional MRI images were obtained while current smokers, former smokers and never smokers performed tasks designed to assess specific cognitive skills that were reasoned to be important for smoking abstinence. These included a response inhibition task to assess impulse control and the ability to monitor one's behavior and an attention task which assessed the ability to avoid distraction from smoking-related images, which tend to elicit an automatic attention response in smokers.

The investigators found that when doing these tasks, the current smokers compared to the never-smokers showed reduced functioning in prefrontal regions that are related to controlling behavior. In addition, the current smokers showed elevated activity in sub-cortical regions such as the nucleus accumbens that respond to the reward value or salience of the nicotine stimuli. However, in marked contrast, the former smokers did not show this sub-cortical activity, but instead showed increased activity in the frontal lobes -- the areas that are critically involved in controlling behavior. Moreover, the former smokers were "super-normal," showing greater levels of activity in these prefrontal regions than the never-smokers.

The implication is that the brain regions responsible for what might be considered "willpower" show more activity in those who have quit smoking. This type of willpower can be measured, can be related to specific brain regions, and would appear to be related to being able to quit cigarettes. These results reinforce the value of smoking cessation therapies that stress the importance of, or that help to train, the cognitive skills involved in exercising control over drug desires.

The research, published in NeuroImage, was completed by Professor Hugh Garavan, Dr. Liam Nestor and colleagues at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and the Research Institute for a Tobacco Free Society, Dublin, Ireland.

The work was funded by the Royal City of Dublin Hospital Trust, Dublin, Ireland.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Liam Nestor, Ella McCabe, Jennifer Jones, Luke Clancy, Hugh Garavan. Differences in "bottom-up" and "top-down" neural activity in current and former cigarette smokers: Evidence for neural substrates which may promote nicotine abstinence through increased cognitive control. NeuroImage, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.03.054

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Brain imaging demonstrates that former smokers have greater willpower than smokers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426102428.htm>.
Elsevier. (2011, April 27). Brain imaging demonstrates that former smokers have greater willpower than smokers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426102428.htm
Elsevier. "Brain imaging demonstrates that former smokers have greater willpower than smokers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426102428.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Sleeping, Anxiety Pills Linked To Alzheimer's

Common Sleeping, Anxiety Pills Linked To Alzheimer's

Newsy (Sep. 10, 2014) Researchers found commonly prescribed sleeping and anxiety pills such as Xanax and Valium could lead to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. 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:
from the past week

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