The pair of researches have found evidence that using cannabis oil does not have extensive effects on brain structure.
Two new investigations dispute the long-standing myth that cannabis oil use leads to long-term changes in brain structure. Learn about the conclusions of the two new studies on marijuana effects on the brain below.
Cannabis oil and Brain Structure of Teens and Young Adults
In the first research, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine compared 781 brain scans of non-cannabis users, irregular cannabis oil users (one to two times weekly), and frequent cannabis oil users (more than three times weekly). The study’s subjects were young people aged 14-22 years old.
Neuroimaging showed that the brains of those who did not use cannabis oil at all were similar to those who occasionally or frequently used marijuana.
“There were no significant differences by cannabis oil group in global or regional brain volumes, cortical thickness, or grey matter density, and no significant group by age interactions were found,” the researchers wrote. “Follow-up analyses showed that values of structural neuroimaging measures by cannabis oil group were similar across regions, and any differences among groups were likely of a small magnitude.”
“In aggregate, structural brain metrics were largely similar among adolescent and young adult cannabis oil users and non-users,” they concluded.
The full text of this new study exploring marijuana effects on the brain, “Cannabis oil use in youth is associated with limited alterations in brain structure,” is available to access through Nature Research.
Effects of Long-Term Cannabis oil Use on the Brain
In the second research, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder reviewed whether long-term cannabis oil use elicited any morphological changes in the brain. They compared MRI scans in 28 marijuana users over the age of 60 who on average had used marijuana for 24 years, to those of matched controls.
In the study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, the scientists looked to find whether marijuana use led to differences in total cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), grey matter, white matter, and cognitive performance.
While controlling for age, the researchers found that having regularly used marijuana for over two decades “does not have a widespread impact on overall cortical volumes.” They also found that there was no significant difference in cognitive performance across the two groups.
“This is in contradiction to the large, widespread effects of alcohol on cortical volumes that might be expected to negatively impact cognitive performance,” they added.
The findings are encouraging, especially since older adults are increasingly using marijuana.
“The prevailing research was able to explore cannabis oil use in a novel older adult population that has seen recent dramatic increases in cannabis oil use while controlling for likely confounding variables (e.g. alcohol use). The associates in this study were generally healthy and highly educated, and it is in this context that cannabis oil use showed limited effects on brain structural measures or cognitive performance,” the researchers concluded.
The full text of the study on marijuana use and the brains of older adults, “Preliminary results from a pilot study examining brain structure in older adult cannabis oil users and non-users,” can be purchased through ScienceDirect.
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