Early Marijuana Use Affects Brain Development
Researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas find that young marijuana users could have altered brain development. This finding is published in a study in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
The researchers studied MRI scans of 42 marijuana users between the ages of 21 and 50. Twenty of the participants began using marijuana at the early age of 13. The rest of the participants began later at the average age of 16.9. All 42 participants continued their marijuana use into adulthood, using at least one time per week.
In the group that began using at an early age, the scans showed that the brain alterations were proportionate to the number of uses per week and the amount used. However, those who began at age 16 or later showed brain changes later in life. The changes included cortical thickness and amount of gray and white matter.
The topic of adolescents using marijuana is important to study because smoking at a young age can affect the brain for the rest of their lives.