According to IFL Science, another study published by researchers at the University of Dallas has found that marijuana use has been associated with changes in the brain – but interestingly, our brain is clever enough to make up for the shortfalls it causes.
The researchers discovered that the brains of chronic marijuana users had less volume in a region that is involved in decision making and emotional processing. However, they also found that this region had increased connections with other brain regions. IFL Science reports that this could be the brain re-wiring itself to make up for the shrinkage.
“The changes in connectivity may be considered a way of compensating for the reduction in volume,” said study author Francesca Filbey. “This may explain why chronic users appear to be doing fine, even though an important region of their brain is smaller in terms of volume.”
The marijuana smokers were described as chronic users, consuming the drug three times a day on average. The participants had a wide age range and also started using the drug at different ages, which allowed the researchers to characterise changes across lifespan without developmental biases.
The problem with this study, although highly relevant, is that it still doesn’t indicate clearly whether the changes are associated with negative or positive performance outcomes in the mental abilities or quality of life of users. But, it does mean that people using marijuana for medicinal purposes shouldn’t have severe brain damage as a short term result.
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It is interesting this breakthrough, as we’ve always assumed the substance almost “rots” the brain and anyone who has used or knows someone who uses marijuana will understand the quite severe emotional effects.
So tell us, does this change your position on the medicinal marijuana debate? Do you think it should be legalised or not? Tell us in the comments below…