Academics at the University of Warwick have found that low functional connectivity of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex that is associated with the tendency to smoke is associated with increased impulsiveness — which may contribute to the tendency to smoke. The high connectivity of the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex in drinkers may increase the tendency to be attracted to the reward of alcohol consumption.
A new study by Professor Jianfeng Feng, Professor Edmund Rolls from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with Dr. Wei Cheng from Fudan University, China, examined the neural mechanisms underlying two key types of substance use behavior, smoking and drinking.
In 2000 participants they found that smokers had low functional connectivity in general, and especially in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with impulsive behavior. This suggests that people who smoke may do so to increase their overall brain connectivity with the stimulating effect of nicotine; and that being impulsive may be a factor leading to smoking.