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Smokers ‘Mirror’ Other Smokers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HANOVER, N.H.) – A new study may explain why smokers feel the need to light up when they see others smoking.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical School, examined a group of nearly 35 study participants -- half of them smokers -- and measured the effects of images of smoking in movies by measuring the participants’ resultant brain activity. 

The results showed that smokers’ brain pathways that regulate the physical hand-to-mouth actions of smoking were activated while they were viewing the movie scenes.  None of this brain activity was observed in the brains of non-smokers.
The region of the brain activated in the smokers is known to contain “mirror neurons” that mirror somebody else’s movements as if they themselves were actually doing them.  This finding provides a clue into one possible reason why smokers feel the need to light up when they see someone else smoke.

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