University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's New Neuroimaging Study Identifies 'Brain Signature' for Cigarette Cravings

PHILADELPHIA – A new brain imaging study by researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania shows that cigarette cravings in smokers who are deprived of nicotine are linked with increased activation in specific regions of the brain. Using a novel method of measuring brain blood flow developed by John Detre, MD, associate professor of Neurology at Penn, this study is the first to show how abstinence from nicotine produces brain activation patterns that relate to urges to smoke. The findings, to be published in the December 19, 2007, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, make an important contribution to understanding smoking urges, a key risk factor for relapse, at the brain level.

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