Smokers find it easier to quit when they have damage to an area of the brain involved in conscious urges, according to research published today.
The findings could help create new therapies to help smokers kick the habit, or to monitor their progress using existing therapies.
Researchers studied 69 smokers with brain damage, 19 of whom had damage to the insula in the brain. Patients who quit smoking easily were more likely to have damage to the insula than anywhere else in the brain.
The authors concluded that insula damage reduced the urge to smoke.
Science (2006) 315: 531-534.