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Effects of cigarette smoking on brain differ between men and women

Science Spotlight

January 08, 2015

Photo of hand removing cigarette from packet

Researchers from Yale University discovered that brain activation during smoking occurs differently in men than in women. The research used a new method of brain imaging scan analysis, and was funded by NIDA and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. The study showed that dopamine release in nicotine-dependent men during smoking occurred in the part of the brain (ventral striatum) associated with drug reinforcement. The dopamine response in women was found within a part of the brain (dorsal striatum) associated with habit formation. The scientists suggest that these findings support previously published data that shows men tend to be reinforced by the nicotine in cigarettes, while women, though no less dependent on nicotine, smoke for reasons that may be related to mood or from habit. Understanding the differences of nicotine’s impact on the brains of both men and women could help identify effective gender-sensitive approaches to smoking cessation.

For a copy of the article, (published online December 10, 2014 in The Journal of Neuroscience), go to: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/34/50/16851.short

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About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2015, January 8). Effects of cigarette smoking on brain differ between men and women. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/01/effects-cigarette-smoking-brain-differ-between-men-women

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