A machine that pulses deep regions of the brain with magnetic current may help heavy smokers quit their habit, according to a Times of Israel story citing an Israeli study.
In the study, which experts said was the most rigorous test of the technology to date, 44 percent of a group of heavy smokers who had failed to quit using other methods were able to stop after a few weeks of treatment.
One third of the smokers who were treated had not lit up six months later.
The magnetic current method is said to stimulate regions of the brain that are central to addiction, using a specially designed helmet.
“We appear to have changed the electrical activity of brain networks in ways that helped people to quit smoking,” said Professor Abraham Zangen, a brain scientist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who helped invent the machine and led the prospective double-blind cohort study.
“Heavy smokers who failed previous attempts to stop smoking with medications, with nicotine patches, with psychotherapy – they made it.”
Based on the results of the study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry in July, the US Food and Drug Administration is said to be testing the machine for approval.
A Jerusalem-based company called Brainsway hopes to bring the machine to market within a couple years.
A similar Brainsway machine, with a helmet targeting different brain regions, is already being used to treat depression, and the company is testing other helmets for a range of other conditions, including autism and Alzheimer’s disease.