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Resolved to quit smoking?
Date:1/31/2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--Brain scans showing neural reactions to pro-health messages can predict if you'll keep that resolution to quit smoking more accurately than you yourself can. That's according to a new study forthcoming in Health Psychology, a peer-reviewed journal.

"We targeted smokers who were already taking action to quit," says Emily Falk, the lead author of the study and director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and Department of Communication Studies. "And we found that neural activity can predict behavior change, above and beyond people's own assessment of how likely they are to succeed.

"These results bring us one step closer to the ability to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to select the messages that are most likely to affect behavior change both at the individual and population levels. It seems that our brain activity may provide information that introspection does not."

For the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, Falk and colleagues Matthew Lieberman, Elliot Berkman, and Danielle Whalen tested 28 heavy smokers, recruited from an anti-smoking program. Each person completed a questionnaire on their smoking history, degree of nicotine dependence, cravings, and intentions to quit. Each was also tested for exhaled carbon monoxide (CO), a measure of recent smoking.

While participants were in an fMRI scanner, the researchers showed a series of television ads designed to help people quit smoking. The ads were produced by a variety of public health agencies and foundations including the California Department of Public Health and the American Legacy Foundation. After seeing each ad, participants rated how it affected their intention to quit, whether it increased their confidence about quitting, and how much they related to the message. A month after the scan, researchers contacted participants to see how th
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Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
734-647-9069
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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