fMRI shows effects of withdrawal on smokers
Functional MRI (fMRI) can show how nicotine withdrawal creates functional changes in the brains of smokers trying to quit, causing cognitive performance deficits that may make it more difficult to quit and could be a driver of smoking relapse, according to new research highlighted at a symposium during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) held in San Diego.

Further, brain imaging technology shows that when treatment with the Commit 4 mg nicotine lozenge is introduced, these symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can be reversed, helping physicians better understand addiction and how treatment can help, the authors noted.

"The new research provides powerful new evidence as to why physicians need to intervene and help their patients understand and manage symptoms to help them quit successfully," said C. Everett Koop, MD, former U.S. Surgeon General and driving force behind the 1988 Surgeon General's report entitled: The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction.

Data from two similar studies were highlighted at the symposium. The studies reviewed the impact of nicotine withdrawal on the brain and demonstrated that the Commit 4 mg nicotine lozenge can significantly help reverse nicotine withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

The first study conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare was a single-center, evaluator and subject blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, two-period crossover study in male and female adult smokers between the ages of 21 to 55 years old. The second study conducted by the University of Surrey, Guildford and funded by GSK, was a single-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in male and female adult smokers. The study used fMRI which provides a measure of information processing in the brain by measuring blood oxygen levels to show how the brain works. The test shows how treatment affects certain areas of the brain.

Specific areas in the brain, particularly those associated with executive functioning, are impacted during nicotine withdrawal. The study results showed that the Commit 4 mg nicotine lozenge significantly improved cognitive performance compared to placebo and lessened symptoms of withdrawal including craving, difficulty concentrating, irritability and restlessness, according to the researchers.

Other nicotine withdrawal symptoms including short-term memory deficit, and selective and divided attention deficits were also significantly reduced.