A new study has revealed that people who smoke are more likely to be impulsive and indecisive than those who have never smoked in their life.
Researchers of the Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin and Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have found that a specific region of the cerebral cortex of smokers is thinner than that of people don't smoke.
This region is decisive for reward, impulse control, and the making of decisions.
To investigate the relation between cortical thickness and nicotine dependence, the brains of 22 smokers and 21 people who have never smoked in their lives were investigated with the aid of a magnetic resonance tomograph.
The measurements were carried out at PTB and furnished high-resolution three-dimensional images of the brain structure.
On the basis of these data, the individual thickness of the cortex could be determined by means of a special evaluation procedure.
A comparison of the two groups showed that in the case of smokers, the thickness of the medial orbito-frontal cortex is, on average, smaller than in the case of people who have never smoked.
The thickness of this region decreased in relation to the increase in the daily consumption of cigarettes, and depending on how long in their lives the participants in the study had been smokers.
Although it is known from animal experiments that nicotine changes the development of the brain and leads to a damaging of neurocytes, it cannot be ruled out that the reduced thickness of the frontal cortex region found in the case of the participants in the study already existed before they started smoking.