Brain scan can tell if a smoker will quit
US: US researchers have found a way to predict how successful
a smoker will be at quitting by using an MRI scan to look for activity
in a region of the brain associated with behavior change.
The scans were performed on 28 heavy smokers who had joined an
anti-smoking program, according to the study published Monday in the
peer-reviewed journal Health Psychology.
Participants were asked to watch a series of commercials about
quitting smoking while a magnetic resonance imaging machine scanned
their brains for activity. After each ad, subjects in the study "rated
how it affected their intention to quit, whether it increased their
confidence about quitting, and how much they related to the message,"
Those who showed activity in the medial prefrontal cortex during the
ads were "significantly linked to reductions in smoking behavior" in the
month that followed, regardless of how the people said they were
affected by the ad. "What is exciting is that by knowing what is going
on in someone's brain during the ads, we can do twice as well at
predicting their future behavior, compared to if we only knew their
self-reported estimate of how successful they would be or their
intention to quit," said lead author Emily Falk.
"It seems that our brain activity may provide information that
introspection does not," added Falk, director of the Communication
Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
She said researchers would next try to determine which kind of
messages were most effective by matching brain activity to the ads. The
study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National
Science Foundation, and took place at University of California, Los
Washington, Monday, AFP