Motivation and the Brain: Quitting Smoking

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Motivation and the Brain: Quitting Smoking
Dion L. Jackson Sr., DA
Psy 355
January 9, 2012
Megan Parker Peters, PhD.

Motivation and the Brain: Quitting Smoking
Everyone who smokes should know that doing such is bad for the body. But the fact of the matter is not everyone who smokes knows. Eventually though, a light is turned on and every individual is enlightened to the dangers of such a bad habit. Some already know while others become aware as to how addictive cigarette smoking can be, yet still manage to pick up a pack and either start smoking or continue to. Due to the psychological disruption of the brain’s natural way of functioning it becomes a process to actually quit smoking, especially after years of lighting up. There are many factors an individual must overcome, and several functions of the brain which are affected by nicotine smoke (Powell, Dawkins, West, Powell, & Pickering, 2010). Research has shown that when those who smoke try quitting their brains react differently to stimuli in their environment depending on the relationship between those stimuli and nicotine (Powell, Dawkins, West, Powell, & Pickering, 2010). Stimuli unassociated with smoking require less attention and demonstrate overall less activation of significant brain circuits, while those that have nicotine associated signals ignite the brain as if nicotine is in use. Essentially, the brain predicts a drag of cigarette smoke; the brain then manipulates the individual into acknowledging the impulse and doing whatever possible to acquire the nicotine. Couple this with the individuals’ impulsive behavior to smoke and we have an inevitable failure, the person smokes. As an addiction, smoking cigarettes would be one of the hardest addictions to overcome. This is largely due to the fact that several regions of the human brain are hard wired to reinforce smoking. The main active component in all brands of cigarettes is nicotine. This nicotine acts on nicotinic...
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