Project Overview +

Study 1 explores the self-relevance dimension of message tailoring while Study 2 focuses on the adaptation of content from message tailoring. Each study has two phases: the first phase demonstrates neural substrate activation associated with specific aspects of tailored messages (fMRI); the second phase explores smoking cessation associated with brain region activations found in the first phase of the study.

Aims +

Study 1:

Aim 1a. Determine if exposure to high-tailored messages focusing on self-relevance and exposure to standard self-relevant stimuli will activate a similar region of the brain of each subject, within the MPFC. Using a region-of-interest analysis, it is hypothesized that these regions will also have increased neural activation under exposure to high-tailored smoking cessation messages, when compared with targeted messages.

Aim 1b. Determine if the degree of activation of regions of the brain associated with tailoring of self-relevance (as determined in 1a) will predict smoking abstinence at four-months after administration of a tailored smoking cessation program.

Study 2:

Aim 2a. Determine if exposure to high-tailored motivational messages will activate areas associated with motivational drives and reward processing (including nucleus accumbens, amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventrotegmental area) when compared against neutral messages.

Aim 2b. Determine if exposure to high-tailored instructional messages will activate areas associated with processing rules and instructions (dorsolateral and anterior prefrontal cortex), and motor programming (caudate) and preparation (pre-Supplementary Area [pre-SMA]) when compared against neutral messages.

Aim 2c. Determine if degree of activation in regions of the brain associated with motivational messages and instructional messages (as determined in Aims 2a and 2b) will predict smoking abstinence at four-months after administration of a tailored smoking cessation program.

Participants +

Eighty-eight smokers, ages 21-55 who are interested in quitting smoking, recruited through local flyers, newspaper advertisements, and Engage (the University of Michigan's clinical research study volunteer website).

Intervention +

Study 1:

Participants receive high-tailored and targeted self-relevant smoking cessation messages during an fMRI session, and are asked to complete a control task testing self-relevance. Immediately following the fMRI session, participants receive a web-based tailored smoking cessation program. Participants follow up in four months and are assessed on actual smoking abstinence.

Study 2:

A new set of participants receive high-tailored motivational messages, high-tailored instructional messages, and neutral messages during an fMRI session. Immediately following the fMRI session, participants receive a web-based tailored smoking cessation program. Participants are followed up with in four months and assessed on actual smoking abstinence.

Findings +

Participants had high subjective ratings for highly tailored smoking cessation statements. Similarly, participants had highest level of engagement with highly tailored smoking cessation messages. Participants rated high-tailored messages as seeming to be more personal for them than low-tailored messages.

These findings are consistent with past research. High tailored smoking cessation messages were found to activate individual's rostral medial pre-frontal cortex and precuneus/posterior cingulate more than low-tailored smoking cessation statements. The same areas of the brain were also more activated by high-tailored smoking cessation messages in blocked conditions and event-related conditions.

Conclusion +

This study investigated the effect of tailored health communication methods on cognitive stimulation. The researchers found that multiple areas of individuals' brains were differentially stimulated by the degree of tailored smoking cessation messages. The highly tailored smoking cessation messages stimulated areas the brain more than low-tailored messages.

This finding may suggest that changes in smoking behavior might be mediated by how relevant individuals perceive their smoking cessation messages to be. The study suggests that the degree of tailoring within messages have the potential to guide individual's motivation and behavior. However, future studies are needed to determine the specific mechanisms of the encoding process, which may yield stronger intervention programming.