ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say neural reactions to pro-health messages -- as shown by brain scans -- may predict those most likely to successfully quit smoking.
Study leader Emily Falk of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor finds activity in the brain's medial prefrontal cortex -- while watching pro-quitting television ads -- predicted less smoking in the weeks ahead.
"What is exciting," Falk says in statement, "is that by knowing what is going on in someone's brain during the ads, we can do twice as well at predicting their future behavior, compared to if we only knew their self-reported estimate of how successful they would be, or their intention to quit."
The findings, published in Health Psychology, suggest functional magnetic resonance imaging could be used to select the messages that are most likely to affect behavior change both at the individual and population levels.
"It seems that our brain activity may provide information that introspection does not," Falk says.
Falk and colleagues tested 28 heavy smokers, recruited from an anti-smoking program. In addition to the brain scans, each person completed a questionnaire on their smoking history, cravings and intentions to quit and was tested for exhaled carbon monoxide -- a measure of recent smoking.