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Just A Bit Of Cannabis Can Alter Teens' Brain Structure: Study

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The societal perception of cannabis has undergone a drastic shift, as can be seen from the number of countries jumping on the marijuana legalization bandwagon. Amid this changing scenario, a new study has found that recreational cannabis use, especially in the adolescent period, can bring about structural differences in the brain.

The study, which is part of IMAGEN, a European research project, involved 46 fourteen-year-olds from Ireland, England, France, and Germany who had used marijuana only once or twice. The researchers who analyzed if even extremely low levels of cannabis use in adolescence is associated with brain structural changes, found that certain brain regions rich in cannabinoid receptors like bilateral medial temporal lobes as well as the bilateral posterior cingulate, lingual gyri, and cerebellum, had greater grey matter volume, compared to teens who had never used the drug.

According to Hugh Garavan, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, and senior author of the study, "In the adolescent period, the brain undergoes a "pruning" process, where it gets thinner, rather than thicker as it refines its synaptic connections. An increased brain matter volume implies that the pruning process might have been disrupted in the marijuana-using kids".

The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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