-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Brain scans can predict a
smoker's chances of being able to quit, according to a new
It included 28 heavy smokers recruited from a smoking cessation
program. Functional MRI was used to monitor the participants' brain
activity as they watched television ads meant to help people quit
The researchers contacted the participants one month later and
found that they were smoking an average of five cigarettes a day,
compared with an average of 21 a day at the start of the study.
But there was considerable variation in how successful
individual participants were in reducing their smoking. The
researchers found that a reaction in an area of the brain, called
the medial prefrontal cortex, while watching the quit-smoking ads
was linked to reductions in smoking during the month after the
Previous research by the same team suggested that activity in
the prefrontal cortex is predictive of behavior change.
In the new study, published in the current issue of
Health Psychology, "we targeted smokers who were already taking action to quit, and we found that neural activity can predict behavior change, above and beyond people's own assessment of how likely they are to succeed," study author Emily Falk, director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Department of Communication Studies, said in a university news release.
"These results bring us one step closer to the ability to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to select the messages that are most likely to affect behavior change both at the individual and population levels," Falk said. "It seems that our brain activity may provide information that introspection does not."
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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