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Cigarette Smoking Negatively Affects Teenage Brains

smoking

Smoking proves to have many dangerous health risks. Recently there has been a study that shows smoking affects teenagers’ brains negatively. In teenage brains the prefrontal cortex is still forming itself structurally and functionally. The more teenagers are addicted to nicotine the less active their prefrontal cortex is. Smoking tobacco has also been linked to deficits in attention and memory in adults.

A professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, Edythe London stated that, “as the prefrontal cortex continues to develop during the critical period of adolescence, smoking may influence the trajectory of brain development and affect the function of the prefrontal cortex.”

To really find out what is going on and if these suggestions and opinions are true there was a test done which is called the Stop-Signal Task (SST). Smokers and non-smokers ages 15-21 where asked to participate. As they were taking the (SST) they underwent functional magnetic resonance (fMRI). This test is basically about the person’s ability to inhibit an action.
Before taking the fMRI test researchers used the Heaviness of Smoking Index (HSI) which assesses the level of nicotine dependence in the smoking group. The (HSI) takes a look at how many cigarettes a day the person smokes, and how soon after waking up she or he lights up the first cigarette.

The test results were quite intriguing and surprising. The higher the (HSI) meaning the more the teenagers smoked the less activity in the prefrontal cortex occurred. Although the smokers and non-smokers performed with almost the same result, the fact that there was little difference is still shocking. It’s bad news for adolescent smokers.

It is a good idea to have interventions on early smokers because they are not as addicted as long term smokers are. Interventions on smoking may also prevent later peer pressure and addiction in these adolescents.


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Filed under: Addiction, Latest News · Tags: cigarette smoking, smoking cigarettes, teens and smoking, tobacco smoking, underage smoking

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