“Young adult smokers may experience changes in the structures of their brains due to cigarette smoking, even with a relatively short smoking history, a study of adolescents suggests. It also suggests that smoking during this critical time period and the neurobiological changes that result may explain why adults who begin smoking at a young age stay hooked on cigarettes.”
Science Daily reports on a small study from UCLA that measured cortical thickness of the insula in adolescents and discovered that the time of cigarette exposure was negatively related to the thickness of the right side of the insula. (The insula is a part of the brain’s cerebral cortex that is involved in monitoring internal states and making decisions. The researchers were interested in the insula “because it is known to play a central role in the maintenance of tobacco dependence, having the highest density of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors within the human cerebral cortex”.) The anomaly was seen even though the smokers began using cigarettes around the age of 15 and smoked fewer than seven cigarettes a day at the time of the study.
The authors concluded that, ” “While this was a small study and needs to be replicated, our findings show an apparent effect of smoking on brain structure in young people, even with a relatively short smoking history. And that is a concern. It suggests that smoking during this critical time period produces neurobiological changes that may cause a dependence on tobacco in adulthood.”
See on www.sciencedaily.com