Don’t be depressed if you are unable to quit smoking. Some smokers who are able to quit might actually be hard-wired for success, says a study.
A team from Duke University showed greater connectivity among certain brain regions in people who successfully quit smoking compared to those who tried and failed.
The researchers analysed MRI scans of 85 people who stopped smoking. The team tracked their progress for 10 weeks. Forty-one participants relapsed.
Looking back at the brain scans of the 44 smokers who quit successfully, the researchers found they had something in common before they stopped smoking.
They had better coordinated activity between the insula (home to urges and cravings) and the somatosensory cortex — 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 make the decision to pick up a cigarette or not,” explained Merideth Addicott, assistant professor and lead author of the study.
Other studies have found that smokers who suffer damage to the insula appear to spontaneously lose interest in smoking. Targeting connectivity between insula and somatosensory cortex could be a good strategy for people to quit smoking, the team noted.
“If we can increase connectivity in smokers to look more like those who quit successfully, that would be a place to start,” Addicott pointed out.
The study was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.