Short AND long term effects of MJ on the brain
Marijuana is known to affect functional parts of the brain when you are high. But marijuana does not only affect the brain for a shorter period of time. While some effects are completely reversible, it can also change the way our brain works. Marijuana can also impair the brain’s development in teenagers. And what most stoners don’t want to hear is:
The scary thing is, some of these changes may be permanent, or at least long-lasting.
How does marijuana affect the brain?
The THC from marijuana affects the hippocampus (the brain region responsible for memory formation). Brains that are influenced by marijuana during neonatal development, after birth (through breast milk) or during adolescence have significantly lowered learning/memory capacities. These changes are connected to the structural and functional changes THC causes in the hippocampus.
Long-term marijuana effects on IQ
Studies also suggest that initiating marijuana use in adolescence and continuing with chronic and persistent use is associated with a loss of an average 8 IQ points. In that same study, the subjects that measured lower IQ after heavy and continuous marijuana use did not recover the lost IQ points. Heavy use in adulthood did not lead to the same results and mature marijuana smokers had no significant changes in their IQ.
Other neurological side effects of marijuana
The basal ganglia, cerebellum and hippocampus are not the only brain regions that marijuana affects. Here are more brain centers whose function is changed under the influence of THC:
- The cerebral cortex – associated with higher cognitive functions
- The nucleus accumbens – which is the ‘reward center’ of the brain
- The hypothalamus – responsible for regulation of the homeostatic functions
- The amygdala – a gland which regulates emotional responses and fears
- The spinal cord – associated with peripheral sensations on the body (pain)
- The brain stem – which controls motor functions, sleep and sexual arousal
- The nucleus of the solitary tract – associated with visceral sensations (nausea and vomiting)
Marijuana effects on the brain questions
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