According to a recent study, habitual marijuana use may shrink the brain, but can actually increase the complexity of it’s wiring. The study, published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points out that grey matter in the brain can be adversely effected from long-term exposure to THC; however, higher rates of brain connectivity were shown in subjects who used cannabis compared to those that did not.
The major difference between the research conducted in this study compared to other studies on marijuana, is the fact that it used three different MRI techniques to determine brain characteristics, changes, and accuracy. Dr. Sina Aslan of the University of Texas at Dallas, led the research this time around and gathered results from 100 test subjects, ranging in age from 20-36.
“The results suggest increases in connectivity, both structural and functional that may be compensating for grey matter losses. Eventually, however, the structural connectivity or ‘wiring’ of the brain starts degrading with prolonged marijuana use.”
According to the study, after six to eight years of continuously using marijuana the increases in structural wiring declined, but users continued to display higher brain connectivity than non-users.In some test subjects who used marijuana over time, IQ was adversely effected in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) of the brain, which led some to behavior variances such as hyper-sexuality, poor social interaction, and excessive swearing among other matters.
Moreover, the doctor explained that “while our study does not conclusively address whether any or all of the brain changes are a direct consequence of marijuana use, these effects do suggest that these changes are related to age of onset and duration of use.”
Although further research and study is needed in order to determine if ceasing cannabis use can reverse the changes associated with prolonged use, the new study combined with current technology sheds new light on the the effects of cannabis. The study also displays truths in marijuana use that have previously been ignored or downplayed, and shows that the results about marijuana's effect on brain health and functionality, are not as bad as the mainstream public has been led to believe.
For more information regarding the study: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/05/1415297111