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Teen Smokers Crave Cigarettes More than the Adults

Update Date: Dec 31, 2015 09:31 AM EST

Teen smokers crave nicotine more because their brains respond differently to images of lit cigarettes, according to a new study. To evaluate the minds of young smokers to see if they are hardwired into desiring cigarettes, researchers did magnetic resonance imaging or (MRI) scans of adults and teens that included both smokers and non-smokers, while watching videos of young adults and adolescents smoking. With teen smokers, the researchers witnessed an amplified response in the regions of the brain that is rich in neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical that is responsible for reward and pleasure centers of the brain. It also helps in regulating the emotions. "We interpret these data to mean that the teen brain is more responsive to the rewarding and thrilling aspects of smoking, thus making craving more psychologically salient to them," said study co-author Adriana Galvan of the University of California Los Angeles. "The dopamine system undergoes significant maturation during the teenage years, rendering the teen brain more reactive to rewards and perhaps more vulnerable to addictive substances," Galvan added by email, as reported Reuters

Galvan and Kathy Do, co-author, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign analyzed MRI results for 39 teens and adults while making them watch small video clips of actors smoking cigarettes. Half of the participants in the group admitted to being smokers and the ones who accepted were reported having more cravings when they watched the video. In this study, the adolescent smokers showed the same levels of yearning even though their history of smoking is much lesser than the adults. When the researchers asked the participants of the study after their MRIs how badly they wanted to smoke, only teen smokers seemed to have a connection between their pleasure and reward centers in the brain, followed by a desire to smoke, reported Yahoo News

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