A study published this Tuesday in the journal Nature shows that a reduced proportion of gray matter in two areas of the brain may be related the desire to start smoking in adolescence and strengthen nicotine addiction.
Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Warwick in the UK and Fudan University in China analyzed brain imaging and behavioral data more than 800 young people aged 14, 19 and 23.
The study found that, on average, teens who started smoking at age 14 or younger had done so significantly less gray matter in a section of the left frontal lobe associated with decision-making and rule-breaking. Gray matter is the brain tissue that processes information and contains all the neurons in the organ.
Although brain development continues into adulthood, Gray matter growth peaks before puberty. The researchers suggest that the decreased gray matter volume on the left side of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex may be a “hereditable biomarker” for nicotine addiction, with implications for prevention and treatment.
In addition, the scientists found that the opposite part, the right side of the same brain region, also had less gray matter in smokers. loss of matter in the right prefrontal cortex, a region associated with sensation seeking, seems to accelerate only after you start smoking.
The authors of the study argue that the gray matter in the brain is decreasing could reduce cognitive function and promote “disinhibition.”a behavior”impulsive and transgressive“This results from a reduced ability to consider the consequences, which may increase the chances of starting smoking at a young age.