Smoking linked to physical changes in youngsters` brains

ANI| Updated: Mar 05, 2014, 15:07 PM IST
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Washington: A new study has revealed that young smokers may experience changes in the structures of their brains due to cigarette smoking, dependence and craving.

The study done by the researchers of UCLA has found that the brain changes can occur in those who have been smoking for relatively short time and the neurobiological changes could be the reason behind cigarette dependency in adults.

The study found that there were differences among younger smokers and non-smokers in the insula, a part of the brain's cerebral cortex that is involved in monitoring internal states and making decisions.

The researchers, by measuring the cortical thickness of the insula, found that the amount of cigarette exposure was negatively related to the thickness in the right side of the insula.

Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and David Geffen School of Medicine, said that although its uncertain whether the findings represent the effects of smoking or a genetic risk factor for nicotine dependence, but the results may reflect the initial effects of cigarette smoking on the brain.

London said that the findings may also contribute to the understanding of why smoking during this developmental stage has such a profound impact on lifelong smoking behavior.

The study was published in the online edition of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.