Smokers who suffer from nicotine withdrawal may have more trouble shifting from one brain network to another, reveals a new study.
According to the study conducted by scientists in Penn Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nicotine withdrawal makes it hard for people to shift from "default mode", when people are in "introspective" or "self-referential" state, into a control network, the executive control network, that could help exert more conscious, self-control over cravings and to focus on quitting for good.
The study validated a neurobiological basis behind why so many people who are trying to quit smoking, end up relapsing up to 80 percent.
The findings may even lead to new ways to identify smokers at high risk for relapse who need more intensive smoking cessation therapy.
Caryn Lerman, deputy director of Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, said that they believe smokers who just quit have a more difficult time shifting gears from inward thoughts about how they feel to an outward focus on the tasks at hand.
Lerman added that its very important for people who are trying to quit to be able to maintain activity within the control network, to be able to shift from thinking about themselves and their inner state to focus on immediate goals and plans."
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.