A new study by researchers in Boston, Massachusetts has shown that even moderate use of marijuana can cause changes to the brain and brain functions. The changes to the brain were more pronounced in young marijuana users.
The findings from Northwestern University Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School conclude that low to moderate marijuana use directly effects the brain anatomy.
The test population was 20 people who ranged in ages from 19-25 years old. They subjects categorized themselves as recreational pot users who smoked between six and eleven marijuana joints per week. The researchers scanned the brains of the test subjects and then compared them to twenty other participants who did not smoke marijuana. The differences between marijuana users and non-marijuana users was very apparent.
What is the Nucleus Accumbens
The nucleus Accumbens is a region of the human brain. Each brain hemisphere has its own nucleus accumbens. Research has shown that the nucleus accumbens plays a vital role in pleasure including laughter, reward, learning, fear aggression, impulsiveness and addiction.
When brain scans were compared between the two test parties, marijuana users had larger nucleus accumbens than non pot smokers. The size of the nucleus accumens was also larger with those who smoked the most amount of pot during the test study. In short, the more a test subject smoked, the larger the nucleus accumbens.
Drug addiction was omitted from the study and the focus of the research was to gather data on light to moderate pot smokers. The tests suggest that young people are extremely vulnerable to marijuana because their brains are not full developed or matured. The study did not focus on how marijuana effects brain function.
The concern is young marijuana users are interfering with important decision making functions at the most important times of their lives. Marijuana does alter the brain and when you are choosing a college major, starting a career or making relationships marijuana use will effect those outcomes. There is now evidence that youngsters have cognitive abnormalities with marijuana use.
The Journal of Neuroscience