Could smoking marijuana—even occasionally—negatively affect your BRAIN? Show Notes

Monday, April 21, 2014 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Could smoking marijuana, even on an occasional basis, negatively affect your BRAIN?

For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes – and found that young adults who smoked pot just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.

The study’s findings are similar to those of past research linking chronic, long-term marijuana use with mental illness and changes in brain development.  

According to Fox News, Dr. Hans Breiter, one of the authors of the study, wanted to focus on the effects of casual marijuana use. His previous research found that heavy users had brain abnormalities similar to those in people with schizophrenia.

Brieter says “There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do. When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory.  It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day.  

Breiter and his team analyzed a small sample of marijuana users between the ages of 18 and 25. Some used the drug just once or twice a week and others used it every day.

The researchers focused on two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation.   They found that those areas were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

Because these brain regions are involved with human motivation, the findings support the well-known theory that marijuana use leads to “amotivation,” in which people become less oriented towards goals in life and are less focused in general.

For more information on the effects of marijuana, visit drugfree.org.

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.
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