Smokers Have Thinner Cortex, Study Says
Scientists from Germany have established that smokers have thinner cerebral cortex. The longer a person smokes, the thinner it becomes.
German scientists from the medical centers “Charite-Universitatsmedizin” and “Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstaltv” in Berlin found another adverse effect of regular smoking on human health. Over the years, the cortex at the permanent smokers becomes thinner.
However, scientists can not say for sure whether this reduction is due directly to smoking, or the process had taken place before a human being became addicted to cigarettes. Supplementary investigations are required to clarify this issue.
Researchers have used magnetic resonance imaging scanner to measure brain at 22 people who are smokers with the experience. The control group consisted of 21 people who have never touched a cigarette. These studies were published in the Biological Psychiatry journal.
It was found that smokers have the special area much thinner in the cerebral cortex (part of the brain that is involved in the decision making process, as well as impulse control). Thickness at nonsmokers was greater. The process of reducing the thickness of the cerebral cortex was directly dependent on the number of cigarettes smoked by people daily. In addition, the thickness was also depended on how long people use cigarettes.
Scientists will also have to answer the question whether the inverse process is possible – whether the cortex is able to recover losses, if the person quits smoking. This requires new research.
It was also found that former smokers have greater willpower than non-smokers.
Scientists have studied the brains of former and current smokers in order to understand how to quit smoking.
The study was conducted by experts from Dublin Trinity College.
Scientists exposed participants of the study to the magnetic resonance imaging scanner while they (former, current smokers and never smoking people) carried out assignments for assessment of cognitive skills, presumably important for smoking cessation.
Scientists have found that current smokers, compared to never smoking people, demonstrated reduced functioning in the prefrontal lobes, associated with the control of behavior. In addition, current smokers showed increased activity in subcortical areas such as the nucleus accumbens, responsible for promoting predisposition to nicotine challenge. However, ex-smokers did not show such activity in the brain, but it was found the increased activity in the frontal lobes – areas that are involved in behavioral control.
The most amazing thing is that ex-smokers, compared with never smoking people, had substantially higher activity in a given area.
This means that the brain regions, that are responsible for the willpower, have higher activity at those who quitted smoking.
The results of the study underline the value of methods of getting rid of the bad habit.
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