A new study suggested that those who suffered a stroke in the brain region of the insular cortex were prone to give up smoking. To be more precise, stroke survivors were able to quit smoking due to a lesion to their insular cortex. Therefore, this region of the brain was the cause for smoking addiction.
It’s been widely known that smoking is related to illnesses such as stroke, cancer and heart disease, as it’s one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
156 patients who had suffered a stroke were monitored. They displayed damage in specific areas of the brain.
Moreover, those with insular cortex lesions reported they were able to quit smoking, and they said they experienced less withdrawal symptoms in comparison to the other patients.
Health experts said that if more thorough study would be conducted on this particular area of the brain, smokers would be pursued to successfully quit this addiction.
Most of the smokers have been using specific medication which inhibited the impulses coming from the brain related to reward pathways that responded to nicotine accordingly.
Moreover, patches and gums have also been an alternative so far. These alleviate the cravings related to tobacco usage and work by supplying a specific dose of nicotine.
The scientific team comprised of Amir Abdolahi, post-graduate researcher, and his colleagues have reached the conclusion that the insular cortex could be a target for further research in developing aids for smokers.
Dr. Abdolahi explained that
“it is clear that something is going on in this part of the brain that is influencing addiction.”
Abdolahi said that health officials would be required to explore ways of developing new drugs or resorting to other therapies including transcranial magnetic stimulation or deep brain stimulation that would be focused on that particular area of the brain, by disrupting its role in addiction.
Moreover, the patients who had been hospitalized due to suffering a stroke were subjected to medical scans which found that 38 had suffered lesions in the insular cortex area, whereas the remaining 118 displayed damage to different parts of the brain.
As health experts think that the insular cortex’s role is in correlation with desires and emotions, the fact that its impulses were inhibited drove those with lesions in that area to quit smoking.
As Dr. Antoine Bechara, from the University of Southern California, would put it: the patients had
“forgotten the urge to smoke,”
due to changes related to their internal systems.
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