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Home Industry News Brain circuitry responsible for anxiety in smoking cessation discovered

Brain circuitry responsible for anxiety in smoking cessation discovered

22nd April 2015

Neuroscientists have been able to identify the circuitry in the brain responsible for increasing anxiety in people experiencing withdrawal from nicotine addiction.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School study found that a brain region known as the interpeduncular nucleus is activated and appears to cause anxiety among many people trying to quit smoking.

This sub-region is distinct from another previously identified by the same research team where physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, nausea and insomnia, are known to originate.

It was also found that input from neurons in two other brain regions converge on to the interpeduncular nucleus to stimulate anxiety-provoking neurons. These processes could therefore be interrupted to make it easier for smokers to quit the habit.

Indeed, investigators were able to alleviate anxiety in mice by quieting the activity of the activated neurons, suggesting the same might be possible for humans.

Principal investigator Dr Andrew Tapper, associate professor of psychiatry, said: "We're now exploring whether the circuitry that we identified is involved in stress-induced anxiety in general, or specific to nicotine withdrawal-induced anxiety."ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801784652-ADNFCR

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