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 (3,495 Responses)
  1. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    Very good info. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've book-marked it for later!


    June 19, 2021 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for supplying this information.


    June 19, 2021 at 22:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 19, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repairs Nearby

    Howdy, I think your blog might be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, great site!


    June 19, 2021 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. pharmacepticacom

    hydroxychloroquine sulfate classification https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 19, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 20, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Internet Marketing Agencies Near Me


    June 20, 2021 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Internet Marketing Consultants Near Me


    June 20, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Video Marketing Companies Near Me

    Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    June 20, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. сайт

    Such a beautiful picture looks great.

    June 20, 2021 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Video Marketing Consultant

    Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 20, 2021 at 04:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Internet Marketing Specialists

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 20, 2021 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. SEO Marketing Specialist


    June 20, 2021 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Internet Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to come back yet again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    June 20, 2021 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. SEO Marketing Firm


    June 20, 2021 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Content Marketing Agencies


    June 20, 2021 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Maurita Ceretti

    I blog frequently and I seriously appreciate your information. This great article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.


    June 20, 2021 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kewaice

    IPv4 мобильные прокси

    June 20, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Houston Dobmeier


    June 20, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Marcelle Komatsu

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?


    June 20, 2021 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Andera Kratzer

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 20, 2021 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Kewaice

    Приватные мобильные прокси для Facebook динамические

    June 20, 2021 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Dean Roman

    This web site definitely has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 20, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. smithandwesson340pdfastt.blogspot.com

    Hello, this weekend is nice in favor of me, since this
    time i am reading this impressive educational article here at my house.

    Here is my web page ... smithandwesson340pdfastt.blogspot.com

    June 20, 2021 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Tyrell Halechko

    Itís hard to come by knowledgeable people on this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 20, 2021 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. pharmaceptica

    hydroxychlor side effects https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Dusti Bader


    June 20, 2021 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Beverley Mesecher

    You are so cool! I don't believe I've truly read through a single thing like this before. So great to find somebody with original thoughts on this issue. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 20, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. сайт


    June 20, 2021 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair Places Near Me

    You're so awesome! I do not believe I've read through something like this before. So great to discover someone with a few original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!


    June 20, 2021 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. pharmaceptica

    tadalafil warnings https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Gayle Shunk

    all right place to share


    June 20, 2021 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. winco near me

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I really thought you'd have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    June 21, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. gamewin88 slot

    Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long)
    so I guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm
    thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to everything.
    Do you have any points for inexperienced blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

    Here is my web page; gamewin88 slot

    June 21, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. drive thru near me

    Hey there! I just would like to offer you a big thumbs up for your great information you have got right here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.


    June 21, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am going through problems with your RSS. I donít understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 21, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. animal shelters near me


    June 21, 2021 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. live casino online

    I feel this is among the most vital info for me. And i am glad studying your article.
    But wanna statement on some general things, The web site taste
    is great, the articles is truly excellent : D. Excellent task, cheers

    Also visit my web site: live casino online

    June 21, 2021 at 04:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. xoac tv

    Xoilac Tv Thẳng Soccerlich thi dau ngoai anhXem đá bóng trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch vạc sóng thẳng bóng đá EURO hôm nay được Webthethao update chính xác nhất.


    June 21, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Near My Location


    June 21, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. chevy dealership near me


    June 21, 2021 at 06:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Shop

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit once again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    June 21, 2021 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. coffee shops near me


    June 21, 2021 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. airbnb near me


    June 21, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. pharmaceptica.com

    erectile massage rochester ny https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 21, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. job openings near me

    I was excited to find this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new things on your web site.


    June 21, 2021 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. co tat ca bao nhieu so co dang ab3

    Xoilac Tv Thẳng đá Bóng 188betĐội tuyển chọn nước ta chỉ cần một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng nhằm lần loại hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, để làm được điều này


    June 21, 2021 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Body Repair Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

Leave a Reply to RV Repair Shop Near My Location


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.