If you’re trying to give up smoking, it’s good to keep a check on what you watch on screen. While it has been speculated earlier that seeing your favourite actors puff away to glory can have an influence on you, a new research has found out why your brain responds in a certain way every time you see someone smoking on the screen.
According to the American study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, watching actors smoke cigarettes activates the part of the brain that plans hand movements in smokers, such as movements required for lighting up and taking a drag. So, that explains the sudden craving for a smoke everytime you are watching your favourite characters in shows such as Mad Men.
The researchers selected the 2003 Nicolas Cage film Matchstick Men, because smoking plays a prominent role in the film, but sex, violence, and alcohol abuse don’t, which researchers feared would skew the results.
To find out what happens in the brain while watching onscreen smoking, the researchers asked 17 smokers and 17 non-smokers to watch the first 30 minutes of the movie while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI), which measures blood flow to different areas of the brain as a way to track brain activity. The scans revealed that smokers’ brains went into action, already planning the movements of their smoking hand, which was not the case for non-smokers.
It has been reported that cigarette smoking is a habit that kills five million people worldwide each year. In 2010, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that smoking scenes encouraged children and adolescents to light up. Indian experts have also claimed the same.