New Brain Stimulation Device Helps Smokers Quit
Stimulating the brain using magnetic currents can significantly reduce the urge smokers have to light up, researchers discovered.
During the study, which was conducted in Israel, a special helmet-like device was developed for deep stimulation of specific parts of the brain. The device sends magnetic currents to the brain that stimulate the nervous system while the patients are entirely conscious.
The study was led by Prof. Abraham Zangen, head of the Brain and Behavior Laboratory at the department of Human Sciences at Ben Gurion University, along with Dr. Limor Dinur Klein from Tel Aviv University and Prof. Moshe Kotler, head of the Psychiatric Union in Israel.
Prof. Zangen tells NoCamels: "This is just the interim analysis but it is promising. Forty percent of the subjects in this subgroup quit smoking and we will continue the research in the near future." According to Zangen, the combination of stimulation at high frequency and cue presentation — providing a signal that reminds the person of something to provoke the craving circuitry in the brain — causes a significant reduction in cigarette consumption.
15 minute sessions
The participants in the study all smoked at least 20 cigarettes per day and all already attempted to quit smoking in the past using other methods. They were invited for 13 sessions of 15 minutes each, over a period of three weeks.
"We decided to conduct the research because addiction is a major health problem. I have been studying the basic mechanisms of addiction in animals for 10 years and identified neurochemical alterations in specific brain regions associated with the development of addiction. Moreover, we found that electrical stimulation for cocaine addiction of specific brain regions in animals can reduce drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior."
Article continues at ENN affiliate, NoCamels
Smoking man image via Shutterstock