Brain responses to personalized messages about smoking-cessation predict how likely someone is to quit smoking four months later, reports a study published this week in Nature Neuroscience. The predictive responses were specifically located in areas of the brain that are activated by thinking about oneself.
Hannah Chua and colleagues studied smokers who participated in a smoking-cessation program. In this program, they were presented with tailored messages that encouraged quitting by making references to the individual’s life, needs, and interests, as well as, to specific obstacles to achieving behavioural change. Functional magnetic resonance imaging during the presentation of these messages showed that activation of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, an area that is also activated by self-related thinking, was correlated with how likely participants were to have quit smoking four months after the scanning.