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Nov 17, 2014
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Rating: 0  , Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex  , Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex  , Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex  , Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex  , Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex

Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex




In the smokers, these increased brain connections appeared to help them counteract the behavioral problems commonly associated with weed use, like trouble maintaining relationships or staying motivated enough to find or keep a job.

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Wikimedia Commons The approximate location of the orbitofrontal cortex, highlighted in green. But while new connections blossom throughout the brain during the first few years of regular use, they eventually recede. Researchers saw a significant drop-off in new brain links after about six years of regular use. So does smoking weed every day for a decade shrink your brain and make you dumber? Not quite.

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The regular smokers did have lower IQ scores overall when compared to the people who didn't smoke, but there's no way to know yet whether or how that might be linked to smaller orbitofrontal cortices or marijuana use in general. "We cannot honestly say that that is what’s happening here," says Francesca Filbey, the lead study author and professor of neuropsychology at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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For starters, this study — the first ever to look at the long-term effects of weed smoking in heavy adult users across a wide age range — did not show that pot smoking caused certain regions of the brain to shrink. In fact, other studies suggest that having smaller orbitofrontal cortices in the first place could make someone more likely to start smoking. One recent study, for example, found that children as young as 12 who had smaller orbitofrontal cortices were significantly more likely to start smoking weed by the time they hit their 16th birthday.

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