Health

How does nicotine affect the brain?

Nicotine modifies brain function, specifically acts on nicotine cholinergic receptors that are part of the reward circuitry, releasing dopamine, the neurotransmitter of motivation and reward. In addition, it does very quickly, between only 10 to 15 seconds is transported from the lungs to their receptors through the bloodstream. In fact, the fastest way to run a brain substance is smoked, which creates a much stronger effects of conditioned reinforcement. The snuff is the drug that has the highest probability of dependence just try it once (32%).

Snuff addiction is due, as stated above, the release of dopamine, the brain area specifically in the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens), the so-called mesolimbic dopamine pathway, via the reinforcement and reward the brain. These areas are activated naturally when we make any motivating achievement pass an exam, improve sports brands, win a game, experience an orgasm, etc. These are called natural highs generated by our own natural drugs without putting them artificially. We have our own morphine or heroin brain: endorphins; brain marijuana: anandamide, cocaine or amphetamines brain: dopamine; or the issue at hand, our own brain Nicotine acetylcholine.

When a drug gets abusive activate these areas and explosively generate addiction. Drugs brain neurotransmitters themselves are skipped and stimulate these receptors so that it is not necessary to get the reward naturally, more short-term and more intense. Can you imagine an Olympic marathon medal without jogging? Well that’s what the brain understands when you smoke a cigarette. It’s not natural. It’s not healthy. Leave it and get to make a real builder activity.

In addition, the use of unnatural substances causes increased abstinence and Craving (craving) entering a vicious circle of concern for the pursuit of drug addiction, dependence and withdrawal. In the long term, it will no longer be the reward that produces the substance directly, but the anticipation of the rewards generated by the vicious circle. Dopaminergic neurons fail to respond to primary stimulus and make it as directly conditioned stimulus, which may be the environment such as being on a terrace of a bar with a coffee, which encourages light his cigar. In this case also increased dopamine migrates dorsal striatum of the brain.

VÍA DE LA DOPAMINA MESOLÍMBICA

Now it is when one reads this and says that he has addiction to snuff and that only smoke when I want. And may be true, reward systems are not the same for everyone and may have a more or less impulsive nature. That is, there are people who win Olympic marathons with less physical preparation than others but they get the same reward end.

What makes nicotine in the brain?

Well, nicotine, it is primarily aimed at nicotine cholinergic receptors in the reward circuit where two types of nicotine receptors exist: the subtype α4β2 and α7 and subtype.

The aim of smoking in the brain is to try:

  • Desensitizing all α4β2 nicotinic receptors.
  • Getting the maximum release of dopamina.
  • Prevent craving (craving for smoking).

The α4β2 receptors are initially at rest (closed) and open to smoke a cigarette releasing dopamine booster generating the feeling, pleasure and reward. Once the cigarette is completed, these receptors become desensitized so can not function temporarily reacting to acelticolina (cerebral natural neurotransmitter) or nicotine itself. This desensitization roughly coincides with what it takes to inhale a standard cigarette. The problem with this is that when opened, have resensibilizado to its state of rest and want reinforcement due to lack of release of dopamine. It’s a vicious circle.

REFUERZO Y RECEPTORES NICOTINA

Why have 20 packs of cigarettes snuff?

Not smoking more cigarettes you’ll get more pleasure receptors are closed only one and can not react until later. Now think, how many cigarettes have a pack of snuff? 20. How many hours do you spend awake? about 16 hours. For tobacco companies put them comes with 20 cigarettes with appropriate percentages of nicotine, or larger or shorter cigarettes, to maintain an average smoker with nicotine receptors completely desensitized. It is a matter of production costs. Did you think that cigarettes were random for something that size? They have it for you smoke a pack a day feeling pleasure, a cigarette every 45 minutes. No longer generates more smoking pleasure and go brain linked to other conditioning but not physiological.

How nicotine damages the brain?

Think carefully when to start smoking or make up your mind to try to quit because smoking accelerates the aging process of the brain and impairs the ability to make decisions, solve problems or control impulses. The cause is the thinning of the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain. According to a recent study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry it has shown that the more cigarettes a person smokes per day and the longer it takes to be smoking more thins this brain area. This also is associated with an increased risk for addiction. Smoking has a cumulative effect so that chronic smokers have a harder time quitting. The “good” news is that it has been found that people who quit smoking are able to regain some lost their orbitofrontal cortex thickness. Do not waste your time and stop smoking.

Corteza orbitrofrontal
Corteza orbitrofrontal

 

Sobre el autor

Iván Pico

Graduado en Psicología (UNED). Nº Colegiado G-5480. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales (USC). Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y las Organizaciones. (INESEM). Máster Universitario Oficial en Orientación Profesional (UNED). Posgrado en Neuromarketing (Universidad Camilo José Cela). Técnico Deportivo Nivel II, fútbol sala (RFEF). Especialista en Psicología Aplicada al Deporte. Etc, etc...
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    • Muchas gracias por el comentario! Sí,la intención de la web es divulgar información de forma comprensible para poder educar y con ello prevenir las malas conductas.
      Este tipo de comentarios anima a seguir aportando artículos. Gracias!

  • EXCELENTE.. ES DECIR QUE LOS VAPEADORES CON NICOTINA SON UN ENGAÑO, TE LIBERA DE OTROS PRODUCTOS TOXICOS DEL CIGARRILLO PERO EL ESENCIAL TE LO DEJAN EN LA ESENCIA, PUES LA MAYORIA TIENE NICOTINA.. EL MINIMO QUE TRAEN ES DE 3MG TENGO ENTENDIDO..

  • Me ha encantado el articulo!
    Y pregunto… a este nivel que se puede hacer para la deshabitualización? Es decir si el problema es el circuito de placer que genera el estimulo condicionado ya que como dices el estimulo primario deja “insensibilizada la zona de los receptores” y no es la causante. (Creo que lo he entendido así 🙂
    Saludos

    • ¡Hola! Muchas gracias.

      Lo que sucede es que los receptores cada vez necesitan estimulación para poder liberar el mismo nivel de dopamina (ya que han sido sensibilizados de manera extraordinaria previamente). Desde mi punto de vista, el primera paso la deshabituación es conseguir equilibirar el consumo con los ciclos de apertura y cierre de estos receptores para que poco a poco se “resensibilicen” a su posición estado normal. Con esto, el control del consumo será más fácil de llevar a cabo ya que no se consumirá “más de lo necesario”. A partir de este paso, y mediante el cambio de conductas la necesidad del refuerzo por nicotina combinado con un refuerzo supletorio más saludable (ejercicio por ejemplo), se podría llegar a controlar esas ansías por el consumo. Básicamente, por lo que logramos es controlar la apertura de esos canales del placer de forma más natural.
      El cerebro quiere sentirse “querido” y el reemplazo de ese sentimiento que la nicotina le daba de manera “sencilla” es la tarea que tienen que lograr aquellas personas que quieran dejar de fumas.

      Espero haberme explicado. Como digo es mi versión del proceso 🙂

      Un saludo,
      Iván Pico
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