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In one study, Northwestern University scientists found that former pot smokers had developed brain abnormalities in regions associated with short-term memory, and performed slightly worse on memory-related tasks.
Even more unsettling: The brains of pot smokers were found to be abnormally shaped and looked similar to brains damaged by schizophrenia.
Many had abnormal blood levels in areas affected by Alzheimer's disease, such as the hippocampus.
The findings, published in the latest Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, are an ominous warning as the United States rapidly embraces recreational and medical marijuana legalization.
Before each round, they were told they could win 20 cents or —or they might lose that amount, or have no reward or loss.
The patients - from California, Washington, Virginia, Georgia and New York - all had complex treatment-resistant issues, and all underwent single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) - a sophisticated imaging study that evaluates blood flow and activity patterns while undergoing concentration tests. Comparing those patients' brain scans with 100 healthy controls, the researchers saw a stark difference in blood flow levels.
Every marijuana user had significantly lower blood flow in the right hippocampus compared to the controls.'As a physician who routinely sees marijuana users, what struck me was not only the global reduction in blood flow in the marijuana users brains , but that the hippocampus was the most affected region due to its role in memory and Alzheimer's disease,' she said.
Dr George Perry, editor in chief of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease said: 'Open use of marijuana, through legalization, will reveal the wide range of marijuana's benefits and threats to human health.
When it comes to polarizing health topics, few subjects spark more debate than weed (except maybe Cross Fit or the Paleo Diet). In the study, participants sat in an MRI while they played a game, in which they pressed a button when they saw a target on a computer screen cross in front of them.