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Casual pot use changes size and shape of brain: Study

Written by: QMI Agency
 

Apr. 16, 2014

The size and shape of two brain regions change in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, a new study has found.(Fotolia)


 

The size and shape of two brain regions change in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, a new study has found.

The regions are linked with emotion and motivation, researchers from Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School found.

They used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brains of participants between the ages of 18 to 25 who reported smoking pot at least once per week to those who said they had not used the drug in at least three months.

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The MRIs revealed the nucleus accumbens - a brain region known to be involved in reward processing - was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared to non-users. In pot smokers, the amygdale - which plays a central role in emotion - also had a different shape and density than those who did not smoke.

The study appears in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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