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Train Brain To Reduce Cravings

A Yale University researcher has shown that smokers can learn to reduce cravings with standard therapeutic techniques.

The techniques appear to decrease the need for a cigarette by regulating activity in two separate but related areas of the brain.

Smokers who are taught cognitive strategies, such as thinking about the long-term consequences of smoking, show increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with cognitive control and rational thought.

They also show decreased activity in areas of the striatum, an area of the brain associated with drug craving and reward-seeking behavior, according to the paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This shows that smokers can indeed control their cravings, they just need to be told how to do it,” said Hedy Kober, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the paper.

Cravings are the triggers that often lead to relapse in a host of addictions, which carry a staggering economic and social cost.

Cigarette smoking alone is responsible for over 400,000 deaths per year in the U.S. (more than all illicit drugs and alcohol combined). Some experts predict that substance abusers should show impairments in areas of the prefrontal cortex, which among other functions helps control emotion.

But in smokers at least, this does not appear to be the case. This area of the brain showed increased activity—and smokers reported less intense cravings—when using cognitive strategies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be an effective tool in treating a variety of mental health disorders, including substance use disorders. The new study shows why this approach is effective, Kober said.

“We do not see any impairment in the prefrontal cortex, which suggests the brain is able, when prompted, to recruit control regions to reduce cravings,” Kober said.

Source: Yale University

Train Brain To Reduce Cravings

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Train Brain To Reduce Cravings. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/03/train-brain-to-reduce-cravings/16336.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.