Guided Imagery to stop smoking

Yale Uses Guided Imagery to Understand Addiction

Researchers at Yale University are using guided imagery to study and understand addiction. Professors Kathleen Garrison and Marc Potenza, led a study analyzing MRI brain scans of both smokers and non-smokers as they reacted to a guided imagery program designed to stimulate the appetite and reward centers of their brains. The study found that smokers’ brains showed less appetitive stimulation, suggesting that they are “desensitized to food-related rewards in the motivation and reward brain regions,” Garrison told the Yale Daily News. She added, “This may be why smoking is associated with low body weight, and why you gain weight when you quit smoking.”

Previous studies, including one from the University of Arizona Medical School, have shown that guided imagery can help with smoking cessation by reducing stress. Potenza notes that people often smoke to relax, so being aware of how relaxation works in the brain of a cigarette addicted person as opposed to a normal person can have significant treatment implications. Potenza told the Yale Daily News, “if we can help pople achieve [relaxation] without substances that are potentially harmful to them, like tobacco, then we can improve the health of these individuals.”

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