Targeting Brain Region Could Help Smokers Quit: Study

A new study suggests smokers can blame a specific part of their brains for difficulty kicking the habit.

Targeting Brain Region Could Help Smokers Quit: Study

Smokers, if you're having trouble breaking the habit — a new study suggests you can blame your brain. 

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School say there are specific areas of the brain responsible for those nasty withdrawal symptoms: headaches, irritability and nausea. (Via CNN)

As any longtime smoker can attest, quitting can be hard. Experts say nicotine could be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. (Via Howcast)

Even after I had my heart surgery (FLASH) I still smoked after that. (FLASH) This is after I had six bypass surgeries. (FLASH) It's difficult." (Via CDC)

Those University of Massachusetts researchers gave mice water laced with nicotine for more than a month. They then analyzed how their brains formed addiction. (Via Voice of America)

What they observed was an area in the middle of the brain — called the interpeduncular nucleus — harbored activity that stimulated withdrawal symptoms. 

See — when a person smokes, nicotine travels pretty quickly to the brain. It attaches itself to a receptor that releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes people feel good. (Via Mayo Clinic)

The researchers say their study gives them hope that if they can learn how to basically deactivate the neurons in that region of the brain, they could probably help more people kick the habit. According to the CDC tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths every year.