||For the first time, preliminary research using brain-imaging technology has shown that low-key and attention-grabbing anti-smoking public service announcements stimulate different patterns of activity in smokers’ brains and that smokers are more likely to remember seeing the low-key PSAs.
Low-Key Anti-Smoking Ads Are More Likely to Be Remembered
For the first time, preliminary research using brain-imaging technology has shown that low-key and attention-grabbing anti-smoking public service announcements stimulate different patterns of activity in smokers’ brains and that smokers are more likely to remember seeing the low-key PSAs. The study, published May 15 in the journal
NeuroImage, was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute.
Televised PSAs are an important element of campaigns that promote smoking cessation,
drug abuse prevention and other public health causes. Some PSAs take a low-key, “just the facts” approach to conveying their message, while others use attention-grabbing
features such as fast pacing with frequent cuts, dramatic narration, bright colors, loud music and shocking or surprising visual images. This study found that regions of the brain associated
with attention (the frontal cortex) and memory (the temporal cortex) were more active when participants were watching the low-key PSAs compared to the more dramatic attention-grabbing PSAs.
“This study highlights the feasibility of using functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine how the brain processes drug prevention
messages,” says NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow. “The next step is to determine whether
better memory for the low key-PSAs translates
into changing attitudes and behaviors. Ultimately this could improve our strategies for communicating public health information.”
Prevention Program Helps Teens Override a Gene Linked to Risky Behavior
A family-based prevention program designed to help adolescents avoid substance use and other risky behavior proved especially effective
for a group of young teens with a genetic risk factor contributing toward such behavior,
according to a new study by researchers at the University of Georgia. The National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse supported
the study, which appears in the May/June issue of Child Development.
For 2˝ years, investigators monitored the progress
of 11-year-olds enrolled in a family-centered
prevention program called Strong African American Families (SAAF), and a comparison group. A DNA analysis showed some youths carried the short allele form of 5-HTTLPR. This fairly common genetic variation, found in over 40 percent of people, is known from previous studies to be associated with impulsivity, low self-control, binge drinking and substance use.
The researchers found that adolescents with this gene who participated in the SAAF program
were no more likely than their counterparts
without the gene to have engaged in drinking, marijuana smoking and sexual activity.
Moreover, youths with the gene in the comparison group were twice as likely to have engaged in these risky behaviors as those in the prevention group.
Formaldehyde Exposure Associated with
Increased Risk of Cancers
Results from an ongoing study of workers employed at plants that used or produced formaldehyde continue to show a possible link between formaldehyde exposure and death from cancers of the blood and lymphatic system,
particularly myeloid leukemia. The report, by researchers at the National Cancer Institute,
provides an additional 10 years of follow-up data to build on previous findings from this study. The report appeared online May 12 and in print May 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“The overall patterns of risk seen in this extended
follow-up of industrial workers, while not definitive, are consistent with a causal association
between formaldehyde exposure and cancers
of the blood and lymphatic system and warrant continued concern. Further studies are needed to evaluate risks of these cancers in other formaldehyde-exposed populations and to assess possible biological mechanisms,” said lead author of the report, Dr. Laura E. Beane Freeman of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemio-logy and Genetics.
Formaldehyde is widely used for industrial purposes
and as a preservative and disinfectant. The International Agency for Research on Cancer
classifies it as a human carcinogen, based primarily on its association with nasopharyngeal
cancer. In 1995, the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration estimated that approximately 2.1 million workers in the United
States were exposed to formaldehyde.