“A pair of studies suggests that a region of the brain — called the insular cortex — may hold the key to treating addiction. Scientists have come to this conclusion after finding that smokers who suffered a stroke in the insular cortex were far more likely to quit smoking and experience fewer and less severe withdrawal symptoms than those with strokes in other parts of the brain.
“These findings indicate that the insular cortex may play a central role in addiction,” said Amir Abdolahi Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the studies. “When this part of the brain is damaged during stroke, smokers are about twice as likely to stop smoking and their craving and withdrawal symptoms are far less severe.”
Abdolahi is a clinical research scientist at Philips Research North America and conducted the research while an epidemiology doctoral student in Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
While smoking rates have remained flat for the last decade, smoking is still responsible for nearly one of every five deaths in the U.S. and smoking places individuals at a significantly higher risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke.”
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