Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 195–204 | Cite as

A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Study of Cue-Induced Smoking Craving in Virtual Environments

  • Jang-Han Lee
  • Youngsik LimEmail author
  • Brenda K. Wiederhold
  • Simon J. Graham


Smokers who are exposed to smoking-related cues show cardiovascular reactivity and smoking craving compared with their responses to neutral cues, and increased cue reactivity predicts decreased likelihood of successful cessation. Several brain imaging studies suggested four candidate brain regions that might differ in gray matter volumes and densities between smokers and nonsmokers. However, in these studies, smokers were only exposed to smoking-related objects. In our pilot study utilizing a virtual reality (VR) technique, virtual environments (VEs) were more immersive and evoked smoking craving more effectively than traditionally used methods. In this study, we sought to test whether smokers could experience cue-induced smoking craving inside the MRI scanner by using the VR system. The smoking cue reactivity scenario was based in part on our preliminary task and consisted of 2D and 3D (or VE) conditions. The group mean of participants had increased activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), left anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC), left supplementary motor area, left uncus, right inferior temporal gyrus, right lingual gyrus, and right precuneus in the 2D condition. Areas of differential activation in the 3D condition were as follows: left superior temporal gyrus, right superior frontal gyrus, and left inferior occipital gyrus in the 3D condition. This finding is consistent with those of previous studies of nicotine craving showing PFC and ACC activation. However, in the 3D condition, the PFC including the superior frontal gyrus as well as the superior temporal gyrus, inferior occipital gyrus, and cerebellum were activated. Therefore, in the 3D condition, participants seemed to have more attention, visual balance, and coordinating movement than in the 2D condition.


smoking craving fMRI virtual reality virtual environment cue reactivity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jang-Han Lee
    • 1
  • Youngsik Lim
    • 2
    Email author
  • Brenda K. Wiederhold
    • 3
  • Simon J. Graham
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyChung-Ang UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of Adolescent ScienceChung-Ang UniversitySeoulKorea
  3. 3.The Virtual Reality Medical CenterSan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.Imaging ResearchSunnybrook & Women’s College Health Science CentreTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Medical BiophysicsUniversity of TorontoCanada

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