Food and nicotine cues activate same brain regions

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

April 13th, 2012, 2:12 pm #1

Food and nicotine cues activate same brain regions

Wanting for food, wanting for nicotine.   Craving food, craving nicotine.   Eating temporarily satisfying wanting, smoking temporarily satifying wanting.   The need to eat 2 to 4 times daily, the need to smoke 5 to 60 times daily.   Without food we starve, without nicotine we thrive.   One need mandatory for survival, the other a lie. 

The below study findings help confirm what a number of studies have long suggested, that nicotine hijacks brain dopamine pathways, the mind's build-in survival instinct teacher.  Sadly, today, roughly one billion nicotine addicts navigate each day with nicotine having the same priority as food.    

Is it any wonder that most new quitters attempt using extra food to satify wanting for nicotine?  Although normal, is doesn't work.  During early recovery, when the potato chip or cookie bag is empty and your belly full the brain's underlying wanting for more nicotine continues.  Attempting to use food as a replacement crutch can demoralize quitters concerned about weight.  Don't go there!  Patience, baby steps, embrace your brain's healing. 

How do we awaken smokers to the reality that their wanting to smoke nicotine and the craves felt are not rooted in like, love, desire or pleasure, but that the reward felt is for wanting, urges or craves to briefly end?   Who should they believe us, or the endless cycle of wanting inside their mind? 

Still just one guiding principle to staying here on the honest and free side of dependency's bars while keeping our addiction and its lies fully arrested on the other ... none today!!   

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John - Gold x12

Food and drug cues activate similar brain regions:
A meta-analysis of functional MRI studies

[/b]Journal:  Physiology and Behavior. 2012 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors: Tang DW, Fellows LK, Small DM, Dagher A.


In healthy individuals, food cues can trigger hunger and feeding behavior. Likewise, smoking cues can trigger craving and relapse in smokers. Brain imaging studies report that structures involved in appetitive behaviors and reward, notably the insula, striatum, amygdala and orbital frontal cortex, tend to be activated by both visual food and smoking cues.

Here, by carrying out a meta-analysis of human neuro-imaging studies, we investigate the neural network activated by: 1) food versus neutral cues (14 studies, 142 foci) 2) smoking versus neutral cues (15 studies, 176 foci) 3) smoking versus neutral cues when correlated with craving scores (7 studies, 108 foci).

PubMed was used to identify cue-reactivity imaging studies that compared brain response to visual food or smoking cues to neutral cues. Fourteen articles were identified for the food meta-analysis and fifteen articles were identified for the smoking meta-analysis. Six articles were identified for the smoking cue correlated with craving analysis. Meta-analyses were carried out using activation likelihood estimation.

Food cues were associated with increased blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response in the left amygdala, bilateral insula, bilateral orbital frontal cortex, and striatum. Smoking cues were associated with increased BOLD signal in the same areas, with the exception of the insula. However, the smoking meta-analysis of brain maps correlating cue-reactivity with subjective craving did identify the insula, suggesting that insula activation is only found when craving levels are high. The brain areas identified here are involved in learning, memory and motivation, and their cue-induced activity is an index of the incentive salience of the cues.

Using meta-analytic techniques to combine a series of studies, we found that food and smoking cues activate comparable brain networks. There is significant overlap in brain regions responding to conditioned cues associated with natural and drug rewards.

PubMed Link: ... 841200114X