The Best Cigarette, a poem by Billy Collins:
Don’t forget that cigarette addiction seems to be modulated by the insula, a brain area that secretes aversive emotions. Earlier this year, a team of scientists at the University of Iowa found that cigarette addicts with damaged insulas were 136 times more likely to have their addictions erased than smokers with damage to other parts of the brain. Once their insula was offline, the awful emotions associated with nicotine withdrawal vanished. “My body forgot the urge to smoke,” one man confessed. While his brain still wanted that rush of toxic nicotine, he never experienced the accompanying emotions urging him to inhale. Quitting was easy.
This new research might also help explain why anti-depressants like Zyban can be so effective at helping smokers quit. Because the pharmaceutical helps to flatten out our negative emotions, it makes us less submissive to our insula. As a result, we don’t feel the same need to smoke.
Hat Tip: 3 Quarks Daily