Researchers zoom in on brain’s addiction spots

Updated 31 January 2013

Researchers zoom in on brain’s addiction spots

TOKYO: A smoker’s craving to light up can be tamed by carefully targeted magnetic fields applied to the brain, a senior researcher from a Japanese-Canadian team said yesterday.
Scientists managed to zoom in on the exact spots that drive the need for nicotine, noting that a mental connection made when a smoker is able to have a cigarette markedly increases the desire to spark up.
They found that by interrupting this connection, the addict was better able to control his or her cravings.
“Cabin attendants who smoke say they feel stronger cravings for cigarettes as they approach landing times, no matter whether their flights are long-distance or not,” Takuya Hayashi told AFP from Kobe in western Japan.
“Our study shows the urge for smoking is not only about if smokers are running out of nicotine,” said Hayashi, of Japan’s RIKEN Center for Molecular Imaging Science, noting a neural mechanism was also playing a role.
MRI images showed two regions in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls decision-making, interact and increase the urge to smoke, according to the study, carried out jointly with Alain Dagher of the Montreal Neurological Institute at Canada’s McGill University.
Imaging of the brains of ten smokers who watched video footage of people puffing away showed increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a region of the brain just behind the eyes.
The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is located higher up, was found to become active if the smoker knows cigarettes will be available immediately after the experiment.
Higher activity in the DLPFC boosted activity in the OFC, thereby increasing the desire to smoke, the study found.
When researchers targeted the DLPFC with magnetic stimulation — effectively limiting it — activity in the OFC became independent of the availability or otherwise of tobacco, thus reducing cravings.
“The findings could lead to the development of treatments for tobacco and other addictions” because they have pinpointed the exact parts of the frontal cortex that are involved, Hayashi said.
The research is published in the US-based PNAS journal.

What’s Trending Today’s: hot topics explained

Zuhoor Assiri gestures as she drives her car in Dhahran on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 54 min 36 sec ago

What’s Trending Today’s: hot topics explained

In the driver’s seat

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. (Twitter photo)

“Al-Waleed bin Talal” was one of the top trending Google searches on Sunday, as he participated in the historic event of women driving in the Kingdom.  

He shot a video of himself sitting next to his daughter Reem who drove him around Riyadh with his granddaughters sitting in the backseat.

In the viral video, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said: “Saudi Arabia has entered the 21st century.” 

Prince Al-Waleed is a Saudi businessman, investor, philanthropist, and a member of the Saudi royal family. Prince Al-Waleed is also the chairman of Board of Directors of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), a Saudi conglomerate company, publicly listed on the Tadawul (Saudi Stock Exchange). 



The Arabic hashtag for Saudi women driving cars, and the English #SaudiWomenDriving were the top trending hashtags in the region. On June 24, history was made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as women with valid driving licenses grabbed their car keys and enjoyed a drive on Kingdom’s roads marking the beginning of an era of prosperity. 

@geekyerxm said: “Seeing all the Saudi woman driving with the biggest smiles ever, is making me tear up GO GIRLSSS”

@ArshiyaShariff7 said: “So finally the wait is over”

@Aljehani_Maha said: “Today we are making history congratulations to all the women in our beloved country, I’m so happy and proud of each one of us. Let’s drive and be the change that we want to see in the world. #SaudiWomenDrive”

@ZainabDaham said: “24th of June 2018,the end of an era and the start of a new one for our Saudi sisters. A very memorable day and a true historic moment. #SaudiWomenDrive”

@LamaG6 said: “Congratulations to all the women in Saudi Arabia! Today marks an extraordinary leap of faith. Today we ARE the news. #SaudiWomenDrive”