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Quit tip – play exciting games to reduce cravings

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If you are trying to quit smoking then one tactic to reduce nicotine cravings is to engage in new exciting cooperative games or puzzles, suggests a recent study titled “An fMRI Study of Nicotine-Deprived Smokers’ Reactivity to Smoking Cues during Novel/Exciting Activity”. In the study, the team tested their theory with the use of fMRI brain scanning during the cooperative game playing. The games were randomised between expanding and non-expanding activities. The study’s expanding games offered new choices and more targets for study participants and were significantly more exciting.  Apparently these self-expanding activities can create dopamine, a positive chemical released in the brain.

Dr. Arthur Aron and lead author Xiaomeng Xu explained that because engaging in self-expanding activities clearly stimulates the same pathways in the brain that are activated by nicotine – as revealed by the fMRI study – self-expanding activities such as games could potentially substitute for the reward the brain receives from nicotine.“Our study reveals for the first time using brain imaging that engaging in exciting or what we call ‘self-expanding’ activities, such as puzzle-solving, games, or hobbies with one’s partner, appears to reduce craving for nicotine,” said Dr. Aron. “The self-expansion activities yielded significantly greater activation in a major reward region of the brain, which is associated with addictive behaviors, than did non-expanding conditions. This suggests such activities may be a major new route to help people reduce the desire to smoke.”

So if you are quitting, whether its a game on your smartphone, computer, or outside, it sounds like trying a new and exciting activity is a great way to reduce cravings. Let us know if this works for you.