teens addicted to cigarettes show a different brain

The researchers compared, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the gray matter of those who started smoking at 14 and non-smokers who repeated this operation at 19, then at 23. Upon arrival, adolescents who started smoking at age 14 found less gray matter in a specific part of the brain, the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is involved in, among other things, emotional regulation, decision making, and self-control.

Five years later, teenage smokers also see the opposite side, the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex, shrink in turn. This area is critical in pleasure management as it processes dopamine into the “reward” circuit.

Early treatment for addiction recovery

The images were then compared to questionnaires sent to young smokers asking them to explain their tobacco use. Adolescents who say they smoke for pleasure are more likely to have reduced medulla in the right side of the prefrontal cortex, while those who say they smoke for novelty and disruption tend to have less gray matter in the right side of the prefrontal cortex. left prefrontal cortex.

Do these cerebral features explain why among the large number of teenagers who smoke their first cigarette “to try”, some quickly become addicted, while others do not? According to the researchers, they really are a hereditary biomarker that allows you to identify people with a tendency to addiction.

The results of this study may also help narcologists in the care of young smokers. “Providing non-drug alternative rewards early on in substance use may help prevent addiction,” suggest the study authors, who now want to know if these findings apply to vaping as well.

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