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Scientists believe "brain training" could help smokers quit for good.

Photo: 'Brain training' could help smokers quit
A group of Melbourne researchers and scientists believe "brain training" to improve impulse control could help smokers quit for good.

A trial using "brain training" to help smokers give up for good has been launched in Australia.

The Inhibitory Smoking Training (INST) program, trialled at Deakin University's School of Psychology, uses computer-based exercises to train smokers' brains to improve their impulse control.

There are a wide-range of treatments designed to help people quit smoking, however research shows many relapse within six months.

This could be partly due to an impaired ability to control automatic impulses, says neuroscientist Dr Melissa Hayden.
"Recent advances in neuroscience have highlighted that one way to address this difficulty is by retraining people's brains to improve their impulse control," she said.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of cancer in Australia, with an estimated 9021 people to die from lung cancer in 2017, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's most recent Cancer in Australia report.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Petra Staiger says the program only takes 10 to 15 minutes per day for two weeks and there are no negative side effects.

"Quitting aids like patches or gum can sometimes have adverse side effects which negatively impact their uptake and long-term adherence," said Assoc Prof Staiger.

The researchers are looking for smokers wanting to quit, aged between 18 and 60, living in the Melbourne metropolitan area and who smoke at least 10 cigarettes a day.


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