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NIDA

Scans Show Effects of Craving Regulation in the Brain

Scans Show Effects of Craving Regulation in the Brain When study participants thought of the long-term negative consequences of cigarette consumption (after receiving the instruction "LATER"), rather than short-term pleasures ("NOW"), they reduced their craving. Brain scans showed increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—a region critical to setting goals, planning, and controlling behavior—which, in turn, inhibited the ventral striatum, part of the reward pathway that generates craving.

This is a two-part illustration. On the left is a bar graph showing how study participants rated their craving level on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), represented on the Y axis. The first bar shows that when participants focused on the immediate rewards of smoking, they reported an average of about 4.2. When participants thought of the long-term negative consequences of smoking, they reported an average craving of only about 2.8. On the right side of the illustration, one a brain scan shows the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in blue and is labeled: Increased Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Activity. An arrow points from that image to one the shows the brain

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