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article imageSmokers smoke less if they sniff bad odors at night

By Tim Sandle     Nov 16, 2014 in Health
Tel Aviv - Smokers smoke fewer cigarettes during the day after smelling cigarette smoke together with foul odors during sleep, a new study shows.
A new study, conducted in Israel, suggests that the sleeping brain consolidates memories and can even form new associations. The idea behind the study is that as the human body rests, the brain continues to function. Taking this concept further, it appears that associations formed during sleep can lead to long-term changes in behavior. The study focused on the the number of cigarettes that people smoke.
Experiments have revealed that sleeping smokers who were exposed to the smell of cigarette smoke followed seconds later by the smell of fish or rotten eggs smoked 30 percent fewer cigarettes during the week after the sleep test compared with the week before (when they slept normally, without exposure to unpleasant smells.)
Importantly, this effect was not observed in smokers who were exposed to the smells while awake, or in those who experienced the smells at separate times during sleep.
Scientists think this type of "olfactory conditioning" holds potential as a treatment for addiction, particularly because the brain’s reward center is linked to the sense of smell. Commenting on this, lead scientist Weizmann Institute’s Noam Sobel said in a research brief: "We have not yet invented a way to quit smoking as you sleep. That will require a different kind of study, altogether. What we have shown is that conditioning can take place during sleep, and this conditioning can lead to real behavioral changes. Our sense of smell may be an entryway to our sleeping brain that may, in the future, help us to change addictive or harmful behavior."
The findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, in a paper headed "Olfactory Aversive Conditioning during Sleep Reduces Cigarette-Smoking Behavior."
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