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HHS HealthBeat (February 7, 2011)

The tell-tale brain

Doctor looking at brain images
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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Let’s say you’re trying to quit smoking. What could someone say that would help you succeed?

University of Michigan Professor Emily Falk has been looking into the brain for clues. Falk and colleagues showed heavy smokers quit-smoking TV ads while they imaged activity in a part of the brain that affects whether people will change their behavior. The people also were asked to rate how encouraging the spots were.

Falk found brain images were better than people’s self-assessments at predicting successful quitting:

``The brain reveals information that people’s own beliefs about themselves – or their intention to perform a behavior – don’t actually reveal.’’ (8 seconds)

The study in the journal Health Psychology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: May 7, 2011