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Occasional Marijuana Use May Change Structure of Young People’s Brains: Study

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Occasional marijuana use may change the brain structure in young adults, a new study suggests. Marijuana may cause changes related to motivation, emotion and reward. The changes occurred in the areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and forming long-term memories, and in reward and addiction, HealthDay reports.

The study included 40 college students ages 18 to 25. Half said they used marijuana at least weekly, and were not considered drug-dependent. The other half of the participants did not use marijuana. The participants underwent MRI brain scans. In marijuana smokers, the amygdala and nucleus accumbens regions of the brains were abnormally shaped, and the nucleus accumbens was larger. The more a person used marijuana, the more pronounced the brain changes.

Low-level marijuana use may make a person more vulnerable to addiction, or to changing their emotions or thought processes, according to the researchers. “These are two brain regions you do not want to mess around with,” said study co-author Dr. Hans Breiter of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “All parts of the brain are important, but some, like these, are more fundamental. It raises a very serious issue, given that we saw these changes in casual marijuana users.”

While previous studies have indicated similar changes in brain structure in people who were heavy marijuana users, this is the first study to indicate that even casual marijuana use can change a person’s brain, said study lead author Jodi Gilman of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine. “We were interested in looking at these young adults who aren’t addicted,” she said. “They aren’t reporting any problems from marijuana, and yet we still see these brain changes.”

The study will appear in The Journal of Neuroscience.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of trumpedninja
    trumpedninja / April 19, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Guys are you serious?? these situations and their examination are more complex than you think , you have to be more accurate in what you say : cannabis flowers are not a substance it’s a bunch of lots of substances and differ from strain to strain , from one chemical ratio to another if you want to gain respect in tha hood you have to be more strict and precise and like a good doctor fellah you have to make distinctions among effects of every single organic compound ( THC, CBD, CBN , THCV ,CBGA, THCV and so on) you just cannot be so vague , you guys are vaguely credible , trust me , only stupid people assimilate inaccurate information like these come on , we all know the dark side of doing accurate research on the impact of every compound.It will actually result in really valid medicinal applications of all kind and by yourself you would discover that different ratios among these compounds will be useful in particular and unique ways.

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