Brain Damage Cures Cigarette Smokers ~ Random Waves of Insight
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brain Damage Cures Cigarette Smokers

This article describes a medical study which revealed that the insula (a part of the brain) has a tremendous amount of influence over a smoker's urge to continue smoking. Many individuals with insula damage have quickly and easily stopped smoking as if they had simply forgotten the habit.

I remember hearing an actor who I believe used to be addicted to cocaine tell an audience how he was able to rid himself of addiction. He said something along the lines of his being able to disconnect the action from a feeling of pleasure.

Doctor Antonio Damasio had ideas on the insula being a place dedicated to feelings and emotion before studies were done confirming his theories. He was not involved in the study mentioned in the article, but he did say that, "It's really intriguing to think that disrupting this region breaks the pleasure feelings associated with smoking. It is immediate. It's not that they smoke less. They don't smoke, period."

This new finding is in such early stages of being put to use that it would be folly to say, "Want to quit smoking? Go get some surgery!" But maybe some sort of magnetic process can zap the insula into agreement with the logical will of its owner. When that day comes, cigarette companies will likely lose a great deal of business.

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