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Scientists found predisposition to smoking in the molecular structure of the brain

Posted December 6, 2017

Some smokers just cannot give up their dirty unhealthy habit. Nothing seems to help them. While it is certainly possible to quit for everyone, some people pick up smoking easier and struggle to get rid of it. Now scientists from the University of Edinburgh say that smokers may have some biological features that encourage them to pick up a habit.

Some people pick up a habit of smoking easier and struggle to quit more. Image credit: Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

The idea that people may have harmful habits somehow wired in their brain sounds crazy, because it is. However, it is just a molecular predisposition for a tobacco addiction rather than particular connection that forces people to pick up smoking. Scientists discovered this when they were analysing a new brain map that shows why certain behaviours are linked with particular areas of the brain. Scientists were particularly interested in the molecules found in synapses, connection points between nerve cells, because they found that they vary greatly in different areas in the brain.

Differences in these molecules correspond to different functions of the different areas of the brain. Scientists don’t believe it’s coincidental. Evidently, these molecules play a critical role in determining certain aspects of human behaviour, such as smoking. This new brain map allowed scientists investigating areas that were linked to smoking in previous studies. And their findings were matching, which proves the accuracy of the map. Results lead to the region, previously identified in brain imaging studies. This means that this new brain map can basically link genetic studies to researches involving various imaging techniques. This should help explain brain function more accurately.

For example, this map can be used to research, how diseases affect different parts of the brain. In general, this map can become a useful tool to look deeper into the molecular basis for human though. The map was created by analysing donated post-mortem samples from brain from healthy humans. Dr Kate Adcock, one of the researchers of the study, said: “This innovative study enriches our understanding of the human brain through its use of samples from the Medical Research Council’s Edinburgh Brain Bank. The information that Professor Grant and his team has generated provide an excellent opportunity for researchers to gain further insight into how the brain works”.

Human brain still holds a lot of mysteries. Analysing how it is wired and how these connections influence human behaviour could lead to new therapies and treatments. However, even people with molecular predisposition for smoking should be able to quit by using their will power and determination.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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