Source: Canadian Association for Neuroscience About one in five Canadian adolescents uses cannabis. Neuro-scientists have been researching the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain.
Adolescence is associated with the maturation of cognitive functions, such as working memory, decision-making, impulsivity control and motivation, and the research presented suggests cannabis could have long-lasting, but possibly reversible effects on these.
Researchers present the effects the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, on the adolescent brain, in rodent animal models.
Adolescent exposure to THC induces changes in specific a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and in a brain circuit, the mesolimbic pathway, that closely resemble the abnormalities observed in schizophrenia. Furthermore, adolescent THC exposure also caused affective and cognitive abnormalities including deficits in social interactions, memory processing and anxiety regulation.
The research helps decipher the links between cannabis use and long-lasting changes in the brain, which underlie changes in behaviour in adolescent humans, and in studies reverse-translating these findings to animal models.