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    Cigarettes and Their Destruction of the Brain Essay

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    Smokers generally feel more comfortable after that first cigarette of the day.

    Within just a few seconds of smoking, mind-altering changes are activated. Smokers are aware of the long-term risks of their habit, such as lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other deadly illnesses. However, smokers are attracted to the immediate effects of smoking, which they perceive as a stimulant that makes them feel more alert, clearheaded, and able to focus on work. Smoking, however, does not really have these effects; what the smoker perceives is an illusion. Nicotine begins to act on brain cells within ten seconds of inhalation, fitting into keyholes” on the surface of the brain, the same “keyholes” as acetylcholine (an important neurotransmitter), and mimicking epinephrine and norepinephrine, giving the smoker a rush or stimulation.

    Within 30 minutes, smokers feel their energy begin to decline as the ingested nicotine is reduced. This process continues as the smoker’s attention becomes increasingly focused on cigarettes. Nicotine causes smokers’ brain cells to grow more nicotinic receptors than normal. Therefore, the brain may function normally despite the irregular amount of acetylcholine-like chemicals acting upon it. The brain is reshaped, and the smoker feels normal with nicotine in their system and abnormal without it.

    A series of tests were conducted on nonsmokers, active” smokers, and “deprived” smokers. The “active” smokers were given a cigarette before each test, while the “deprived” smokers were not allowed cigarettes before tests. The tests started simply and then moved towards more complex problems. In the first test, subjects sat in front of a computer screen and pressed the space bar when a target letter, among 96, was recognized. Smokers, deprived smokers, and nonsmokers performed equally well.

    The next test involved scanning sequences of 20 identical letters. As one of the letters was transformed into a different one, participants were required to respond with the space bar. Nonsmokers responded the fastest, and active smokers were faster than those who were deprived of smoking. In the third test, subjects were required to memorize a sequence of letters or numbers and respond when they observed the sequence among flashed groupings on the screen. The purpose of this experiment was to test short-term memory. Nonsmokers ranked highest again, however, deprived smokers performed better than active smokers. In the fourth test, participants were required to read a passage and answer questions about it.

    Nonsmokers remembered 19% more of the most important information than active smokers and deprived smokers performed better than their counterparts who had smoked a cigarette just before testing. Active smokers not only had poorer memories but also had trouble differentiating important from trivial details.”

    In the final experiment, a computer-generated driving simulator (similar to a video game) was used to test the subjects. They were required to operate a steering wheel, gearshift, gas pedal, and brake, and navigate through twisting roads and sudden appearances of cars and oil slicks. Deprived smokers had 67% more rear-end collisions than nonsmokers, while smokers who had just had a cigarette performed even worse, with 3.5 times the rear-end collisions of nonsmokers. As testing progressed and became more complex, nonsmokers outperformed smokers by wider margins.

    As a smoker, I am concerned about the findings of this article. Although I have an exceptional memory, it is not as sharp as it once was. I have considered quitting smoking but have not yet taken any actions. However, I have cut down on the amount that I previously smoked and am still progressing in this manner. This article has forced me to reconsider my habit, as I’m sure it would be beneficial. I advise all smokers to read this article and evaluate their personal smoking habits.

    Works Cited: How Cigarettes Cloud Your Brain.” Ponte, Lowell. Reader’s Digest. March 1995. Category: Science.

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    Cigarettes and Their Destruction of the Brain Essay. (2019, Jan 13). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/cigarettes-and-their-destruction-of-the-brain-essay-69502/

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