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NIDA. (2015, January 8). Effects of cigarette smoking on brain differ between men and women. Retrieved from

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Science Spotlight

January 08, 2015

Photo of hand removing cigarette from packet

Researchers from Yale University discovered that brain activation during smoking occurs differently in men than in women. The research used a new method of brain imaging scan analysis, and was funded by NIDA and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. The study showed that dopamine release in nicotine-dependent men during smoking occurred in the part of the brain (ventral striatum) associated with drug reinforcement. The dopamine response in women was found within a part of the brain (dorsal striatum) associated with habit formation. The scientists suggest that these findings support previously published data that shows men tend to be reinforced by the nicotine in cigarettes, while women, though no less dependent on nicotine, smoke for reasons that may be related to mood or from habit. Understanding the differences of nicotine’s impact on the brains of both men and women could help identify effective gender-sensitive approaches to smoking cessation.

For a copy of the article, (published online December 10, 2014 in The Journal of Neuroscience), go to: