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Connectivity between visual and auditory cortices mediates the influence of argument strength on the effectiveness of smoking-cessation videos among smokers low in sensation seeking

Authors Shi Z, Wang AL, Aronowitz CA, Cappella JN, Romer D, Langleben DD

Received 11 August 2018

Accepted for publication 24 January 2019

Published 18 July 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 531—542


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Zhenhao Shi,1 An-Li Wang,2 Catherine A Aronowitz,3 Joseph N Cappella,4 Daniel Romer,3 Daniel D Langleben1,3,5

1Center for Studies of Addiction, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; 2Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, 10029, USA; 3Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; 4Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; 5Department of Behavioral Health, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Administration Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA

Purpose: Argument strength (AS) is a validated measure of persuasiveness that has been identified as one of the key variables determining the effectiveness of video ads. Smoking-cessation videos with high AS are more effective at reducing smoking behavior than videos with low AS. The neural processes that mediate the effects of AS on subsequent smoking have not been identified. In the present study, we tested whether the efficacy of high-AS smoking-cessation videos is determined by the level of integration of visual and auditory (ie, multisensory) processes. In addition, we tested differences in sensation seeking, which is repeatedly associated with smokers’ sensitivity to cessation interventions.
Patients and methods: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we recorded the brain response of 66 smokers randomly assigned to view either 16 high-AS or 16 low-AS smoking-cessation videos. Multisensory processing was assessed by the functional connectivity between brain regions that encoded visual and auditory information in the videos. Smoking behavior was indexed by the urine level of cotinine, a nicotine metabolite, immediately before and approximately 30 days after the fMRI session.
Results: We found a significant moderated mediation effect, such that the connectivity between visual and auditory cortices mediated the effect of AS on subsequent smoking, but only for smokers lower in sensation seeking. The prediction performance of the model was confirmed by leave-one-out cross-validation.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that audiovisual integration underlies the greater efficacy of high- vs low-AS smoking-cessation videos for individuals lower in sensation seeking. High-sensation-seeking smokers may be responsive to other characteristics of smoking-cessation videos.

Keywords: smoking, health communication, functional magnetic resonance imaging, brain connectivity, sensation seeking

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