Brain fMRI reactivity to smoking-related images before and during extended smoking abstinence

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009 Dec;17(6):365-73. doi: 10.1037/a0017797.


Reactivity to smoking-related cues may play a role in the maintenance of smoking behavior and may change depending on smoking status. Whether smoking cue-related functional MRI (fMRI) reactivity differs between active smoking and extended smoking abstinence states currently is unknown. We used fMRI to measure brain reactivity in response to smoking-related versus neutral images in 13 tobacco-dependent subjects before a smoking cessation attempt and again during extended smoking abstinence (52 +/- 11 days) aided by nicotine replacement therapy. Prequit smoking cue induced fMRI activity patterns paralleled those reported in prior smoking cue reactivity fMRI studies. Greater fMRI activity was detected during extended smoking abstinence than during the pre-quit [corrected] assessment subcortically in the caudate nucleus and cortically in prefrontal (BA 6, 8, 9, 10, 44, 46), [corrected] primary somatosensory (BA 1, 2, 3), temporal (BA 22), [corrected] parietal (BA 5, 7, 40), occipital (BA 17, 18), [corrected] and posterior cingulate (BA 31) cortex. These data suggest that during extended smoking abstinence, fMRI reactivity to smoking versus neutral stimuli persists in brain areas involved in attention, somatosensory processing, motor planning, and conditioned cue responding. In some brain regions, fMRI smoking cue reactivity is increased during extended smoking abstinence in comparison to the prequit state, which may contribute to persisting relapse vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Psychological Tests
  • Smoking / pathology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation* / psychology


  • Oxygen