Friday, January 4, 2013

Faulty Brain Circuit May Explain Link Between Schizophrenia and Smoking

A faulty brain circuit may help explain why individuals with schizophrenia are so prone to be smokers. A decreased functional connection between the dorsal anterior cingulate and the ventral striatum is a key pathway associated with nicotine addiction, L. Elliot Hong, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, and colleagues discovered several years ago. Now they have found such a decreased connection not just in individuals with schizophrenia, but in their first-degree relatives as well, suggesting that the connection is inherited and that it may play a role in why individuals with schizophrenia are susceptible to becoming regular smokers.

"Our findings establish a biologically defined brain-circuit mechanism that contributes to the high prevalence of smoking," Hong and his colleagues conclude in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

To read more about the schizophrenia-smoking connection, see Psychiatric News here and here and the American Journal of Psychiatry here. Also see a study on this topic in the new issue of Psychiatric Services.

(Image: Grandpa/


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