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Stimulating the brain blunts cigarette craving
Date:4/17/2013

Philadelphia, PA, April 16, 2013 Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths globally. Unfortunately smoking cessation is difficult, with more than 90% of attempts to quit resulting in relapse.

There are a growing number of available methods that can be tried in the effort to reduce smoking, including medications, behavioral therapies, hypnosis, and even acupuncture. All attempt to alter brain function or behavior in some way.

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry now reports that a single 15-minute session of high frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the prefrontal cortex temporarily reduced cue-induced smoking craving in nicotine-dependent individuals.

Nicotine activates the dopamine system and reward-related regions in the brain. Nicotine withdrawal naturally results in decreased activity of these regions, which has been closely associated with craving, relapse, and continued nicotine consumption.

One of the critical reward-related regions is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which can be targeted using a brain stimulation technology called transcranial magnetic stimulation. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells. It does not require sedation or anesthesia and so patients remain awake, reclined in a chair, while treatment is administered through coils placed near the forehead.

Dr. Xingbao Li and colleagues at Medical University of South Carolina examined cravings triggered by smoking cues in 16 nicotine-dependent volunteers who received one session each of high frequency or sham repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation applied over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This design allowed the researchers to ferret out the effects of the real versus the sham stimulation, similar to how placebo pills are used in evaluating the effectiveness and safety of new medications.

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Contact: Rhiannon Bugno
Biol.Psych@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-0880
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

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