Want to stop smoking
? A new study showed smokers who are more “self-aware” are much more likely to put down cigarettes for good when anti-smoking messages are tailored to their lifestyle.
So . . . how do you get in on this latest trend? Keep reading to find out.
The study included 91 smokers interested in quitting. Of the 91, 44 were females and 47 were male. They smoked an average of 16.7 cigarettes a day. The research included face-to-face sessions and telephone interviews.
During the first session, the smokers answered a series of questions about their attitudes towards smoking, their desire to quit, and general health. Researchers used their responses to create tailored quit-smoking messages
During the second session, the smokers underwent MRI scans designed to complete two tasks. One of the tasks was to look at the brain regions associated with processing the messages and the other task was to identify the brain regions responsible for self-related processing.
The third session involved participants completing an individualized quit smoking program.
At the end of four months, each study participant was interviewed to determine if they had quit smoking. Forty-five of them described themselves as quitters.How self-awareness correlates to quitting.
The MRI scans of the participants that were given the tailored quit smoking messages showed that these messages actually work because they activate the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex of the brain. This same area is also activated when someone thinks about oneself. The smokers that showed the most activation in this brain area were those most likely to quit.
In other words, the more introspective you are about yourself, the more success you may have when it comes to quitting cigarettes.
Professor Hannah Chua of the University of Michigan, states, “Our finding suggests that the advantage of tailored health messages and promoting a desirable health behavior change stems at least in part from an enhanced engagement of self-related processes evoked by tailoring.” Quitters in this study were more likely to change their behavioral response to stress, as well as avoid those situations that trigger the desire to smoke.So what does that mean to the millions of people wanting to kick the habit?
It’s possible that neuroimaging methods could be a powerful weapon in the arsenal of anti-smoking tools
. Neuroimaging enables the processing of information of the brain to be observed (either directly or indirectly). Information processing causes certain areas of the brain to increase metabolism and “light up.”
Other studies have been conducted whereby smokers received MRIs while watching 45-second videos that contained smoking cues – such as actors and actresses having cigarettes in different settings – or neutral cues that involved the same settings but with no smoking. Patients were asked to indicate how strongly they craved cigarettes immediately after watching each segment.
Individualized quit smoking campaigns may be the wave of the future. If functional MRIs can help select the messages most likely to affect individual behavior, then the urge to quit could very well override the urge to light up.