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This is your Brain on E-Cigarettes

From the bioRxiv.org preprint site, some evidence that e-smoking is potentially habit-forming. Like ordinary smoking as well as several other habit forming drugs, e-cigarette smoking causes increased posterior striatal metabolism, which often correlates with addictive craving and behavior.

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ABSTRACT

The effect of smoking on the brain revealed by using electronic cigarettes with concurrent fMRI

Matthew B Wall, Alexander Mentink, Georgina Lyons, Oliwia S Kowalczyk, Lysia Demetriou, Rexford D Newbould

doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/107771

Cigarette addiction is driven partly by the physiological effects of nicotine, but also by the distinctive sensory and behavioural aspects of smoking, and understanding the neural effects of such processes is vital. There are many practical difficulties associated with subjects smoking in the modern neuroscientific laboratory environment, however electronic cigarettes obviate many of these issues, and provide a close simulation of smoking tobacco cigarettes. We have examined the neural effects of 'smoking' electronic cigarettes with concurrent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The results demonstrate the feasibility of using these devices in the MRI environment, and show brain activation in a network of cortical (motor cortex, insula, cingulate, amygdala) and sub-cortical (putamen, thalamus, globus pallidus, cerebellum) regions. Concomitant relative deactivations were seen in the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex. These results reveal the brain processes involved in (simulated) smoking for the first time, and validate a novel approach to the study of smoking, and addiction more generally.

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