TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A certain area of the
cerebral cortex is thinner in smokers than in people who have never
smoked, finds a new study.
The cerebral cortex is an area of the brain that plays an
important role in reward, impulse control and decision making.
German researchers obtained high-resolution 3-D images of the
brain structures of 22 smokers and 21 people who never smoked.
Using these images, the scientists calculated the thickness of the
cerebral cortex in each participant.
On average, smokers had a thinner medial orbito-frontal cortex
than nonsmokers. The thickness of this region decreased in relation
to heavier daily consumption of cigarettes and the number of years
a person had been a smoker.
However, a direct cause-and-effect isn't clear, said the team at
the Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin and of the
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the German National
They said further research is needed to determine whether
smoking causes this region of the brain to become thinner or
whether people who have a thinner cortex region by nature are more
likely to become smokers.
The study appears in
The American Cancer Society has more about
smoking, tobacco and health.