‘Smoking during a brain scan is not easy. Why would you want to? Because functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows researchers to observe activity in the brain, and doing so while smoking tobacco or pot could enhance our understanding of addiction and how to treat it.
But during an MRI, the head must remain completely still. In the narrow bore of a superconducting magnet, there isn’t much room to maneuver a cigarette or eat a pot brownie either. Smoke raises a second set of concerns. At the very least, it will stink up the lab. Perhaps, it could even damage the expensive machine.
So Blaise Frederick at Harvard Medical School built a device that delivers smoke into the narrow confines of a scanner. His colleagues, Kim Lindsey and Liz Ryan, tested it out on nine volunteers at McLean Hospital. They described their work in the May issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior.’