Cannabis use has become a topic of ongoing debate lately. As more and more states are legalizing its use, the plant’s medical properties have become a focus on various clinical research and studies. Substantial evidence obtained from animal research along with a growing number of studies on cannabis use among humans have indicated that exposure to marijuana for the long term could lead to some adverse changes in the brain.
Study on the Effects of Marijuana on Rats
A study done on the effects of marijuana exposed rats to THC before birth. After birth, the rats showed notable problems on learning and memory tasks at the later stage of their life.
Cognitive impairments were also found among the adult rats that were exposed to the THC during their adolescent stage. These impairments were associated with the functional and structural changes in the hippocampus. The studies done on rats have also shown that exposure to the THC is linked to an altered reward system, which means that there’s a high risk that the animal will consider to self-administer other drugs when the opportunity arises, such as heroin.
Studies of Marijuana’s Impact on Human Brain
Imaging studies done on the impact of marijuana on the brain structure of humans have revealed conflicting results. Some studies suggest that regular use of marijuana in the adolescent stage is linked to altered connectivity and reduced volume of certain brain regions that are involved in a wide range of important functions, such as learning and memory. Other studies, however, haven’t found any significant differences in the brain of people using marijuana and those who don’t.
Several studies have also suggested that marijuana use may lead to functional impairment on the cognitive abilities. However, the degree or duration of impairment will pretty much depend on when the person started to use marijuana and the amount used.
Developing Preventive Strategies
The results of the studies are important in the development of strategies aimed at decreasing the cognitive side effects of the cannabinoid-based treatments that are currently in use, which has proven to be effective in treating several disorders affecting the nervous system. The ability to draw conclusions on the long-term effect of marijuana in the human brain based on the past studies is limited to the fact that there’s not enough information on the mental functioning and overall health of the participants involved.
Scientists are hoping for a better understanding of the cannabinoid in the future, especially its harmful effects in the human brain for the long term. This may aid in the development of preventive strategies and other strategies that could counteract the negative effects. They are also hoping to gain valuable insight into the way the long-term exposure to cannabinoid could negatively affect the brain.
Understanding the mechanisms is important to know how long-term exposure to cannabinoid can increase the likelihood of acquiring mental health issues, including memory problems and learning.