Nicotine is a chemical compound that is present in cigarettes and tobacco. It’s common knowledge that Nicotine addiction(Cigarettes/tobacco) is bad for your health, but careless young people are still choosing to light up more than any other demographic in the World. Researchers, now we have evidence that a specific part of the brain varies between nicotine addicted person and non-nicotine addicted person. The researchers say it could be nicotine causing these changes, even in teenagers who have exposure to nicotine(via cigarette smoking) for a relatively short period of time.
The insula is a part of the cerebral cortex in brain, and it is involved in shaping and developing of our consciousness and emotions. The insula also contains a high concentration of nicotine receptors and plays a critical role in generating desire to smoke & its a main cause of Nicotine addiction. The study’s lead researcher Edythe London said they focused on this particular part of the brain because previous studies in adults and mice showed its size and volume were affected by smoking.
To test differences in the insula of young smokers, Edythe and her colleagues used structural MRI to compare the brains of 18 smokers and 24 nonsmokers between the ages of 16 and 21. The average age smokers started the habit was 15, and they averaged six to seven cigarettes a day.
What did they discovered ?
The brain scans results showed that thickness of the insula, on average, was not substantially different between the groups. However, the thickness of a smaller part of the insular region, the right insula, was not much related to cigarette dependence. Individuals who had smoked for longer insula, or had stronger urges to smoke, had a thinner right insula. The team published their findings this week in the journal Neuro-psycho pharmacology.
“It looks like, even in these very young kids, there is a link between the structure of the insula and the extent to which they smoke and become dependent,” Edythe London said in Neuropsychopharmacology podcast. “It was shocking. We are beginning to get a story of the functional neuroanatomy of smoking.”
Still Question remains same, what cause the addiction ?
Although the study illustrated a difference in brain structure of young smokers and nonsmokers, it did not establish whether smoking/nicotine caused the variations. It could be that people with differently structured insulas are more likely to take up smoking for an unknown reason. However, the results given opportunity for future studies to determine the actual cause and effect.
“Ideally one would start the study in 12-year-olds who haven’t begun to smoke; follow them out after they begin to smoke; and see if in fact the smaller insula thickness was a predictor of a predilection to become a smoker,” London explained in the podcast.
On the other hand, if London’s team finds proof that smoking causes thinning of the right insula,then it would provide further evidence of the detrimental health effects of picking up the habit at a young age And in future we can stop youngsters getting addicted to smoking
-Written By Devesh
Source : discovery magazine