Can Marijuana ‘Shrink’ The Brain? Long-Time Users Have Less Gray Matter, Study Finds

November 12, 2014 3:55 PM

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Can Marijuana ‘Shrink’ The Brain? Long-Time Users Have Less Gray Matter, Study Finds

Scientists have found that using marijuana heavily over many years can actually shrink the human brain, especially in people who started smoking pot in their early teens, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers studying the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain found that compared with nonusers, habitual marijuana smokers’ had less gray matter, the stuff that contains most of the brain’s nerve cells, in the area of the brain responsible for decision-making. Essentially, their orbitofrontal cortexes had shrunk, scientists suggested.

"The younger the individual started using, the more pronounced the changes," Francesca Filbey, associate professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas and the study's lead author, told CNN. "Adolescence is when the brain starts maturing and making itse...

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