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HHS HealthBeat (May 20, 2014)

Marijuana and the young adult brain

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Images of the brains of young adults who use marijuana even only a little show abnormalities in areas that control emotion and motivation. Researchers compared 20 users and 20 nonusers, all 18 to 25 years old, looking at the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala.

At Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, researcher Jodi Gilman:

“What we did see was a very strong correlation between the frequency of use and the brain abnormalities. Those who used more cannabis showed greater abnormalities.”

Gilman says it’s important that even low levels of marijuana use were associated with the brain changes.

The study in the Journal of Neuroscience was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: May 20, 2014