Washington: A new study has found that smoking can reduce the thickness of the human brain.
Researchers compared cortical thickness in volunteers, both smokers and never-smokers, who were without medical or psychiatric illnesses.
Smokers exhibited cortical thinning in the left medial orbitofrontal cortex and heavier smoking was associated with more pronounced thinning of cortical tissue.
The current findings suggest that smoking-related cortical thinning may increase the risk for addictions, including smoking.
"Since the brain region in which we found the smoking-associated thinning has been related to impulse control, reward processing and decision making, this might explain how nicotine addiction comes about," explained Simone Kuhn.
"In a follow-up study, we plan to explore the rehabilitative effects of quitting smoking on the brain,” he added.
"The current findings suggest that smoking may have a cumulative effect on the brain," noted John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry and Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Yale University.
"This concerning finding highlights the importance of targeting young smokers for antismoking interventions."
The study is published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.