Tried to quit smoking but it didn’t work? A new research suggests exercises aimed at increasing self-control, can decrease the unconscious influences that motivate a person to smoke.
Neuroimaging studies have shown that smokers have less activity in the brain regions associated with self-control.
Senior author Nora Volkow from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse said that they were interested in trying to probe how repeated use of drugs ultimately influences our ability to control our desires.
In the study, Texas Tech University and University of Oregon researchers recruited 60 undergraduate students, 27 cigarette smokers and 33 nonsmokers, to participate in an integrative body-mind training program that included relaxation training techniques.
After the study, even though many of the students said they smoked the same number of cigarettes before and after the training, for those who received mindfulness meditation, an objective measure of carbon dioxide percentage in their lungs showed a 60 percent reduction in smoking over 2 weeks.
Lead author Yi-Yuan Tang said that the students changed their smoking behavior but were not aware of it.
Tang added that when they showed the data to a participant who said they had smoked 20 cigarettes, this person checked their pocket immediately and was shocked to find 10 left.
Tang further said that if people improve the self-control network in the brain and moderate stress-reactivity, then it was possible to reduce smoking.
The study is published in the journal Cognitive Sciences.