Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes in a pilot study. They found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in important brain structures that could lead to substantial problems in brain development and behavior.
The study’s findings, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, are similar to those of past research linking chronic, long-term marijuana use with mental illness and changes in brain development.
“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Dr. Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “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. So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”
A pilot study used twenty 18-25 year olds and their matched control group. The users had a wide range of usage from once or twice a week to every day.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the brains of participants. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape and found them to be abnormal in all three. The abnormalities were greater for those who smoked more weed.
“We need to see what happens longitudinally,” Breiter said. “What happens as you follow people over time? What happens if they stop using – do these bad effects continue? What happens if you can intervene early?…My worry is we haven’t studied this compound and here we are looking to change legislation on it.”
The researchers believe the brain abnormalities seen in their study could lead to substantial effects on brain development and behavior, especially given the young ages of the participants.
It’s not the only study. A New Zealand study of over a thousand participants showed a drop of 8 IQ points after chronic pot use.
There’s a new syndrome as a result of chronic pot us that is called amotivational syndrome. It takes away motivation.
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