The Effect of Brief Mindfulness Training on Brain Reactivity to Food Cues During Nicotine Withdrawal: A Pilot Functional Imaging Study
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Many individuals who smoke relapse due to weight gain. Mindfulness training has been shown to help smokers quit smoking and, in other populations, has been used to help people lose weight. This study was designed to assess the effect of 1 week of mindfulness practice on food cravings in smokers during 12-hour smoking abstinence.
We assessed daily smokers with a history of smoking lapse after weight gain. Participants were provided with brief training in mindfulness meditation and mindful eating and were asked to practice each skill daily for 1 week. Before and after this week of mindfulness practice, participants completed surveys to rate their nicotine dependence and food cravings and underwent testing via functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Study results included pre–post intervention reduction in brain activity in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, visual areas, and premotor areas, regions potentially associated with response to food images.
The study was small; however, it suggests the possibility that mindfulness training might be used to decrease food cravings after smoking cessation.
KeywordsMindfulness Functional magnetic resonance imaging Weight Food cravings Smoking cessation
Jennifer Greyber provided editorial assistance in preparing the manuscript for submission.
EK designed the study, conducted recruitment, ran participants through all components of the study, collected data, and drafted the manuscript. MS oversaw imaging design, analyzed imaging data, wrote results, and compiled tables and figures. JD obtained funding for the study, supervised all components of the study, provided mindfulness training to participants, and co-wrote and edited the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.
This project was supported through discretionary funds.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study was approved by the Duke University Institutional Review Board (PRO00079233).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.
Conflict of Interest
EK has received no research grant funding, no significant honorarium funding, and declares no conflict of interest. MS has received research grant funding from NIH and Brain and Behavior Research. MS received no significant honorarium funding and declares no conflict of interest. JD has received research grant funding from Pfizer Inc. and Axsome Therapeutics Inc. JD has received no significant honorarium funding and declares no conflict of interest.
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