Recent studies conducted by the University of Michigan and University of California have focused on isolating the brain regions that control a smoker’s urge to smoke, in order to experiment with how text messages might be able to calm those urges.
The study used “functional magnetic resonance imaging” or MRI, to pin point the specific parts of the brain that cry out for nicotine. In order to gather data, Elliot Berkman, a University psychology assistant professor, choose a text message marketing platform like Opt It’s. He selected text over handing out PDA’s to all participants because “such devices are also relatively costly, since palmtop devices typically used for ecological momentary assessment can cost more than $300 each, while 86 percent of U.S. residents already have cell phones and 91 percent of those are SMS-enabled.” (Emily Falk, University of Michigan.)
The research study was able to gather facts on how many cigarettes were smoked each day, and also information on the associated emotions and behaviors. What they found is that when an individual is craving a cigarette, they need to do something that they consider self-controlling, and sending a text message is a self-controlling action. Study findings suggest that the behavior of texting may help ward off a smoker’s impulse to smoke.
The research scientists involved in the study praised the text messaging system because they feel it is a mode of communication that is very intuitive, that people are used to writing their emotions or thoughts within this intuitive means of communication, and that people always have their cell phones on them, which is ideal for a study that needs to gather information on a 24-hour basis.