Ex-Smokers Have Greater Willpower

Study results published in NeuroImage comparing the brain activity of former smokers to current smokers reveals differences that might offer insight into how to make a success of smoking cessation.

Using functional MRI imaging, researchers from Trinity College and the Research Institute for a Tobacco Free Society, Dublin, Ireland found that former and never smokers who were asked to perform tasks that measured cognitive skills deemed important to successful smoking cessation used different parts of their brains as compared to current smokers.

Give up smoking

Give up smoking

Prefrontal regions of the brain, which are associated with behavior control, appear to be less active in current smokers than in their non-smoking counterparts, while the sub-cortical area of the brain thought to be related to pleasure/reward and triggered by nicotine in smokers , more active.

Interestingly, former smokers not only showed less sub-cortical activity than current smokers, they appeared to experience more prefrontal brain action (the part of the brain related to self-control/willpower) than never smokers.

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