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.
"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" (Liam Nestor, Ella McCabe, Jennifer Jones, Luke Clancy, & Hugh Garavan) is published in NeuroImage http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.03.054
Notes to Editors
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.
About Trinity College (TCIN) - Dublin
TCIN, founded in 2002, is based in Trinity College's Lloyd Institute where it operates in over 3,300 m2 of state-of-the-art research facilities that allow it to realise its 'molecules to mind' research mission. TCIN hosts approximately 45 Principal Investigators and their research groups from the disciplines of genetics, physiology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology, neurology, psychiatry, gerontology, psychology, engineering and physics, thereby enabling a novel multidisciplinary approach. Established in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is ranked in 52nd position in the top 100 world universities and 14th position in the top 200 European universities by the QS World University Rankings 2010. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2010 TCD is ranked 76th in the top 200 world universities and 15th in the top European universities.
NeuroImage, A Journal of Brain Function, provides a vehicle for communicating important advances, using imaging and modelling techniques to study structure-function relationships in the brain. The focus of NeuroImage is on brain systems; however, we are happy to consider papers dealing with structure and function at the microscopic level; if they inform the systems level. The main criterion, on which papers are judged, is to what extent does the scientific contribution advance our understanding of the mechanisms of brain function and how this function depends upon its structure and architecture. These mechanisms may operate in health and disease; therefore, NeuroImage welcomes clinical neuroscience papers that are framed to address mechanisms explicitly. The journal publishes original research articles, papers on methods or modelling, theory and position papers that describe the use of imaging approaches to studying the brain.
Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier's online solutions include SciVerse ScienceDirect, SciVerse Scopus, Reaxys, MD Consult and Nursing Consult, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai's Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.
A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).
Francesca Webb | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy