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Latest Posts

How Cigarette Nicotine Affects The Brain

I was recently asked to review a new textbook on Nicotine Psychopharmacology, containing 18 very thorough chapters describing the latest evidence on the effects of smoking and nicotine on the brain and behavior. Much of it, though interesting, was a very heavy read. But it occurred to me that it might be useful to try to summarize what the 544 pages in this new book suggests about the effects of nicotine and the reasons smokers get addicted. So here is an attempt to describe how nicotine addiction works, in simplified terms.

When a smoker inhales nicotine from a cigarette, the drug is carried to the brain in highly concentrated form within around 10-15 seconds. The drug then Read more »

This post, How Cigarette Nicotine Affects The Brain, was originally published on by Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D..

Quitting Smoking? Your Nicotine receptors Take Over A Month To Normalize

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms typically peak in the first week of abstinence and return to normal at around 3-4 weeks. It has long been known that certain nicotinic receptors (particularly the beta-2 subtype) are closely involved in nicotine addiction, and that smokers have a larger number of nicotine receptors in their brains than non-smokers. When the smoker quits, this large number of vacant, unstimulated receptors is believed to be involved in the resulting craving and distressing withdrawal (irritability, restlessness, depression, anxiety, poor concentration etc).

Earlier this year, a study published by Drs Kelly Cosgrove, Julie Staley and colleagues at Yale University, provided evidence on the time course of normalization of these receptors after quitting smoking. Read more »

This post, Quitting Smoking? Your Nicotine receptors Take Over A Month To Normalize, was originally published on by Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D..

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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