Want to quit smoking? Have a stroke.


SMOKERS who suffer damage to a particular part of their brains appear to be able to quit their nicotine habit easily - a discovery that might open new avenues of addiction research.
A study of smokers who had suffered brain damage of various kinds after a stroke showed that those with injuries to a part of the brain called the insula were in many cases able to quit smoking quickly and easily - saying they had lost the urge to smoke altogether.

The insula receives information from the body and translates it into subjective feelings such as hunger, pain and craving, including craving for drugs.

Don't get your hopes up though, along with messing with your appetite damage to the insula can cause:

A severe multimodal neglect syndrome, mutism, oral apraxia and ideomotor apraxia for the right hand suddenly developed in a right-handed male following a right hemisphere (central) stroke. Neuropathologic examination showed an ischemic infarction involving the whole right insula, adjacent white matter, and the inner cortical surface of the right fronto-temporo-parietal operculum.

Perhaps drugs or neurostimulation can be created which target this region. But really? Is it so hard to quit that you'd be willing to undergo neurostimulation?

Here's a news article (one among the many out today)

I also don't think that's tobacco in that huge 'cigarette' in the picture.

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Any chance this could lead to a new breakthrough for food addiction? (Overeating)?

I actually don't know what it does to the appetite - it might turn you into one of those gigantic rat things (you ever see the experiments where rats eat and eat and eat and eat and eat until they can't even touch the ground with their feet?)

although I think that was the hypothalamus..

But really? Is it so hard to quit that you'd be willing to undergo neurostimulation?

Well....as an ex-smoker who's had a stroke, I'd say the answer is...yes, maybe. Although I quit smoking before I had the stroke, the urge or desire to smoke never really left me. Even now, years later and years after the stroke, I can say I still feel cravings now and then and catching a whiff of cigarette smoke or seeing someone smoke (usually on t.v., in an old movie, where it seems so glamorous) can make me want to smoke. And I KNOW it's bad for me and I can never do it again. If I smoke one cigarette, I'll smoke a pack, and I'll be a pack a day smoker again before you can say "Gimme a light?" What keeps me from smoking is having had a stroke (though not in the insula); I don't want to do anything that increases my risk of having another. But it's really, really, really difficult sometimes. And I didn't start smoking till later in life, and didn't smoke all that long. Do not underestimate the power of this addiction.

ahh.. I've never had that much of a problem... guess I'm lucky that I don't seem to be able to become addicted to stuff... well besides the damn internet.

It may well be that the receptors in the brain that formed during the smoking habit, which also make it harder to quit, are damaged (disconnected) in that part of the brain. Thus making it almost the same as a non-smoker deciding not to smoke.