For some cigarette smokers, strategies to aid quitting work well, while for many others no method seems to work. Researchers have now identified an aspect of brain activity that helps to predict the effectiveness of a reward-based strategy as motivation to quit smoking.
The researchers observed the brains of nicotine-deprived smokers with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and found that those who exhibited the weakest response to rewards were also the least willing to refrain from smoking, even when offered money to do so.
“We believe that our findings may help to explain why some smokers find it so difficult to quit smoking,” said Stephen J. Wilson, assistant professor of psychology, Penn State. “Namely, potential sources of reinforcement for giving up smoking — for example, the prospect of saving money or improving health — may hold less value for some individuals and, accordingly, have less impact on their behavior.”
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