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Psychiatry Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 723632, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Sex Differences and Menstrual Cycle Phase-Dependent Modulation of Craving for Cigarette: An fMRI Pilot Study

1Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal, 7331 rue Hochelaga, Montreal, QC, Canada H1N 3V2
2Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, CP 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
3Department of Psychology, Bishop’s University, 2600 rue College, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1M 1Z7

Received 15 June 2014; Revised 27 October 2014; Accepted 27 October 2014; Published 13 November 2014

Academic Editor: Claude Robert Cloninger

Copyright © 2014 Adrianna Mendrek et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


While overall more men than women smoke cigarettes, women and girls take less time to become dependent after initial use and have more difficulties quitting the habit. One of the factors contributing to these differences may be that women crave cigarettes more than men and that their desire to smoke is influenced by hormonal fluctuations across the menstrual cycle. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was twofold: (a) to examine potential sex/gender differences in functional neuroanatomy of craving and to (b) delineate neural correlates of cigarette cravings in women across their menstrual cycle. Fifteen tobacco-smoking men and 19 women underwent a functional MRI during presentation of neutral and smoking-related images, known to elicit craving. Women were tested twice: once during early follicular phase and once during midluteal phase of their menstrual cycle. The analysis did not reveal any significant sex differences in the cerebral activations associated with craving. Nevertheless, the pattern of activations in women varied across their menstrual cycle with significant activations in parts of the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobe, during follicular phase, and only limited activations in the right hippocampus during the luteal phase.