August 3rd, 2010
06:14 PM ET

Change your thinking to kick that cigarette habit

Imagine how tantalizing, how powerful the craving for a cigarette is. Then imagine you could stem that craving by merely changing the way you think. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that merely thinking differently could help control cravings.

"Most people think that the reason smokers use substances is because of a lack of self-control," said Kevin Ochsner, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University. "We show they don't lack it, the problem they have is they may not know what strategy to use."

Let's face it, our brains are wired for short-term rewards, whether it is the first drag on a cigarette or the first bite of a hot stack of pancakes. According to study authors, the strategy to curb those cravings is almost deceptively simple: re-wiring the brain to think long-term.

Ochsner and colleagues gave brain scans to 21 people who reported regularly smoking. They posed two scenarios. In one, they measured what happened in the brain after asking smokers to think about the immediate rewards of smoking, for example the first drag on a cigarette, how the smoke would feel entering the lungs, or the sensation of smoke curling out of the mouth. In the second scenario smokers were asked to imagine the long-term consequences of smoking - health problems associated with it - such as emphysema or heart disease.

By way of comparison, the same was done with food. Study respondents were shown photos of delectable, fatty foods and asked to think about the short-term rewards (how great the food would taste), and the long-term consequences (obesity, diabetes, heart disease) while their brain activity was measured.

Turns out, something as simple as focusing on the long-term consequences of smoking (or eating fatty foods) could control the craving.

"This gives us a biological explanation for how cognitive regulation of craving works," said Hedy Kober, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and the study's lead author. "By changing the way they think about cigarettes in moments of craving, by focusing on the negative long-term consequences, [smokers] can reduce craving and change their own brain activity."

Two areas of the brain are at work when we crave things - the prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum. The prefrontal cortex is an area associated with reasoning and the ventral striatum is associated with emotion, desire, and craving. Among study participants, successfully curbing cravings involved activating the reasoning part of the brain more than the craving-driven region.

Except re-wiring the brain, re-shaping how one thinks about craving, is far from simple - it is a long process. And then there are important questions about the biological underpinnings of addiction. Still, study authors say that thinking differently is powerful therapy.

"It takes a sustained, continuous effort," said Ochsner. "It is teaching you a new kind of emotional response instead of just going reflexively. It's slow and painful but we absolutely have the potential to do it."

Post by:
Filed under: Addiction • Brain • Psychology • Smoking

soundoff (454 Responses)
  1. internet

    Hi there mates, how is all, and what you would like to say on the
    topic of this article, in my view its in fact remarkable in support of me.

    January 19, 2021 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mara nob

    Buying Cheapest Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine for sale online | Viagra with Dapoxetine without rx


    CLICK HERE to BUY CHEAPEST Viagra with Dapoxetine ! BUY HERE NOW!

    Lowest Price Viagra with Dapoxetine in CANADA without rx ;
    Buy At Low Price Viagra with Dapoxetine in CANADA at discounted prices ;
    Purchase Online Viagra with Dapoxetine in CANADA no prescription pharmacy ;
    Cheap Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine in CANADA overnight delivery no rx ;
    Cheap Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine in CANADA online visa no rx

    Buy Online Cheapest Viagra with Dapoxetine in AUSTRALIA Mail Order http://www.brooksthemanbrown.brooksbrown.com/friendsofernie/bb1/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=388415 ; Viagra with Dapoxetine in USA no script needed c.o.d. overnight ; http://foro.audiomusica.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1100480 ; Order Cheap Viagra with Dapoxetine in United Kingdom (GB) no prior script overnight http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/328981-buy-cheapest-sumycin-in-united-kingdom-gb-shipped-overnight-cash-on-delivery.html#331415 ; Quiqly Delivery Viagra with Dapoxetine in AUSTRALIA no prescription c.o.d. http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/328061-buying-at-lowest-price-myambutol-in-canada-without-dr-prescription-no-script-needed.html#330495 ; Viagra with Dapoxetine in UK/GB at discounted prices Purchase At Lowest Price Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/327643-buy-at-low-cost-bactrim-in-uk-gb-without-a-rx-overnight-no-dr-approval.html#330077 | Low Price Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/328325-cheapest-price-zofran-in-usa-pharmacy-without-a-prescription-no-prescription.html#330759 |Order Online Cheap Viagra with Dapoxetine – https://www.my-wedding-day.at/index.php/forum/welcome-mat/171-where-to-buy-aricept-in-australia-saturday-delivery-without-rx.html?start=60#2734 |Lowest Price Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/327011-how-can-i-buy-bupropion-in-usa-online-no-prescription-shipped-overnight.html#329445 |Buying Cheapest Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/327128-i-want-to-buy-naprosyn-in-united-kingdom-gb-c-o-d-saturday-delivery-shipped-with-no-prescription.html#329562 |Where Can I Purchase Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://highhopeshuntclub.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1411392 |Order At Low Cost Viagra with Dapoxetine – https://pixarplanet.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=364377 |Cheapest Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.rebels-softair.it/forum2/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=95789 |Where Can I Buy Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/329191-purchase-cefixime-in-canada-non-prescription-next-day-no-prescription.html#331625 |Online Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/328083-quiqly-delivery-brand-viagra-united-states-us-without-a-rx-overnight-overnight-online-pharmacy.html#330517 |Indian Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://cs-hlds.ru/forum/15-9339-2#62897 |Discount Prices Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.rebels-softair.it/forum2/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=95542 |Cheap Online Order Viagra with Dapoxetine – https://sosedfermer.ru/forums/topic/buy-discount-shuddha-guggulu-in-uk-gb-no-prescription-c-o-d-no-rx/ |Cheap Price Of Viagra with Dapoxetine – https://www.my-wedding-day.at/index.php/forum/welcome-mat/791-cheap-online-pharmacy-aciclovir-united-states-us-no-prescription-pharmacy-no-script-needed.html |Buy Safety Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/328681-pharmacies-that-sell-doxycycline-in-united-kingdom-gb-online-pharmacy-overnight-shipping-no-script-required-express-delivery.html#331115 |Lowest Price Of Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/325411-where-can-i-purchase-female-viagra-in-canada-from-approved-pharmacy-no-prior-script-overnight.html#327845

    Buy At Low Cost Viagra with Dapoxetine in USA Ordering http://libria.su/librarium-elementum/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=382165 ; Viagra with Dapoxetine in USA internet drugs overnight ; http://www.neomon.com/site/index.php/forum/kunena-to-speak/60978-quality-generic-cialis-jelly-no-prior-prescription?start=72#113463 ; Indian Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine in UK/GB overnight delivery http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/326364-buy-safety-lithium-in-australia-cash-on-delivery-prescriptions-online.html#328798 ; Ordering Viagra with Dapoxetine in AUSTRALIA with no prescription http://www.tdedchangair.com/webboard/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=98062 ; Viagra with Dapoxetine in AUSTRALIA without prescription Purchase At Low Price Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.tdedchangair.com/webboard/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=98352 | Buy Safety Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://test14.info-model.ru/forum/forum4/topic0/message342955/?sessid=1d225daedccf389467de4184c43424ce&TOPIC_SUBSCRIBE=Y |How Can I Buy Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.neomon.com/site/index.php/forum/kunena-to-speak/61386-purchase-online-amitriptyline-c-o-d-overnight-no-rx?start=138#113177 |Low Price Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.multiple-avenues.com/forums/showthread.php?1270-Slimming-World-At-Ullesthorpe&p=1462897&posted=1#post1462897 |Discount Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/330573-purchase-online-brand-levitra-united-states-us-pharmacy-without-a-prescription-overnight-without-dr-approval.html#333004 |Lowest Price Of Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/326275-buying-cheapest-generic-cardizem-in-united-kingdom-gb-no-rx-required-cheap-c-o-d-no-rx.html#328709 |Price Of Viagra with Dapoxetine – https://sosedfermer.ru/forums/topic/lowest-price-celexa-in-usa-next-day-delivery-no-rx-required/ |Buy Discount Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://theauctionboard.com/showthread.php?tid=118295&pid=1017806#pid1017806 |Order Cheap Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://libria.su/librarium-elementum/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=386160 |Ordering Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.tdedchangair.com/webboard/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=106792 |Buy Safety Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.tdedchangair.com/webboard/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=96941 |Order Cheap Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://b7club.ru/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=437435&p=808211#p808211 |Discount Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/330875-cheapest-price-to-order-zocor-in-united-kingdom-gb-free-worldwide-shipping-no-prescription.html#333306 |How To Order Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.tdedchangair.com/webboard/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=94857 |Low Price Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.crusaders-cagliari.it/forum/welcome-mat/328786-how-much-shuddha-guggulu-united-states-us-prescriptions-online-pay-with-mastercard-visa-ach-echeck.html#331220 |Quality Generic Viagra with Dapoxetine – http://www.brooksthemanbrown.brooksbrown.com/friendsofernie/bb1/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=392633

    January 19, 2021 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Forrest Llerena

    I need step by step process. . Are all hosting sites Joomla compatible? How can you tell if they don't and do?.


    January 19, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. KbctMile

    generic cialis india stockists of cialis original cialis pills [url=http://mycialedst.com/]cialis 36 hour[/url] ’

    January 20, 2021 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Rufussoync

    [url=https://drawing-portal.com]The portal design[/url]

    January 20, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. AqbvEncox

    viagra coupon code what\'s viagra how much does viagra cost at walmart [url=http://acialaarx.com/]П†П„О·ОЅО± viagra[/url] ’

    January 20, 2021 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Leave a Reply to Deborah


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.