Smoking can kill, but if a team of researchers from Ben Gurion University has anything to say about it, a lot of lives could be saved. That’s because an early study they conducted using magnetic fields to alter brain activity proved to help some people cut down on, or even quit, smoking.
The researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to “undo” nicotine addiction in the brain by stimulating neurons to alter brain function. This same method is already used in some patients with depression, they said.
They targeted two regions of the brain associated with addiction to nicotine – the prefrontal cortex and the insula cortex.
The 115 regular smokers in the study were split into three groups, receiving high-frequency TMS, low-frequency TMS or no treatment at all.
At the end of a sixth-month study, those getting high-frequency TMS were smoking less and were more likely to have quit.
Dr. Abraham Zangen, from Ben Gurion University, said: “Our research shows us that we may actually be able to undo some of the changes to the brain caused by chronic smoking. We know that many smokers want to quit or smoke less and this could help put a dent in the number one cause of preventable deaths.”