A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shows that teenagers who smoke marijuana on a regular basis will show signs of long-term memory problems.
Heavy weed use is defined by consuming marijuana on a daily basis for at least three years. According to the scientists, this can have affect the brain on a long term.
The hippocampus, which is responsible from long term memory, looks different in teens who use marijuana on a regular basis, compared to teens who don’t use the drug at all, or use it occasionally.
John Csernansky, chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and one of the authors of the new study, explained that heavy use of marijuana in teens seems to affect the memory processes that are used every day for solving problems and help us sustain relationships with family and friends.
The researchers observed these changes in subject that were in their early 20s, a couple of years after they ceased smoking pot.
After being tested, these young subjects had an 18% lower score than other young adults of similar age who were never heavy marijuana smokers.
This is not the first time it’s being revealed that marijuana can have damaging effects on human memory. Some studies have shown that smoking pot can also modify the growth of the hippocampus.
However, this is the first study to link memory performance with the shape and size of the hippocampus, and associate it with heavy use of marijuana.
But this is not the only region of the brain affected by smoking too many joints. Previous studies have shown that the sub-cortex , which is responsible for working and short-term memory, is affect by heavy weed smoking.
Matthew Smith, PhD and assistant professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the main author of the study, said that recent studies link heavy marijuana use in teenagers to these modifications of certain brain regions. These modifications seem to last for years even after the subject has stopped using.
Although there are studies which show that marijuana can be helpful in certain medical conditions, like cancer pain, the American Academy of Pediatrics is against the use of marijuana by kids for recreational purposes.
Image Source: cray24
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