Targeting neurons in brain can help smokers kick the butt

Melbourne: Scientists have revealed that targeting a particular group of neurons in the brain can help people in giving up smoking habit.

Researchers, who conducted studies in mice, found that nicotine addiction can be traced to a single brain region called the interpeduncular nucleus, where neurons "fire up" when someone is gasping for a cigarette, reported.

Lead researcher Dr Andrew Tapper , from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Boston, in the United States, said that they were surprised to find that one population of neurons within a single brain region could actually control physical nicotine withdrawal behaviours.

Dr Tapper's team first delivered nicotine to mice in their water for six weeks, then took the drug away. It was observed that the mice started scratching and shaking, displaying withdrawal symptoms due to being deprived of nicotine.

Further examination of the animals' brains revealed abnormally increased activity in neurons within the interpeduncular nucleus.

The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

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