Neural correlates of message tailoring and self-relatedness in smoking cessation programming

Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Jan 15;65(2):165-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.08.030. Epub 2008 Oct 16.


Background: Smoking leads to illnesses including addiction, cancer, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Different intervention programs have become available. In the past decade, providing tailored smoking cessation messages has been shown to be more effective in inducing smoking cessation than one-size-fits-all interventions. However, little is known about the brain responses of smokers when they receive tailored smoking cessation messages.

Methods: A neuroimaging study using blocked and event-related designs examined neural activity in 24 smokers exposed to high-tailored and low-tailored smoking cessation messages.

Results: In both blocked and event-related conditions, rostral medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus/posterior cingulate were engaged more during the processing of high-tailored smoking cessation messages than low-tailored smoking cessation messages.

Conclusions: The activation patterns of smokers to tailored cessation messages show involvement of brain areas commonly implicated in self-related processing. Results seem to add support to the suggested role of self-relevance in tailored cessation programs, where previous studies have shown a potential mediating role of self-relevance on smoking abstinence. The findings are relevant to understanding the cognitive mechanisms underlying tailored message processing and might point to new directions for testing response to health communications programming.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurolinguistic Programming*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Self Efficacy
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*