Smoking pot causes permanent brain damage in teenagers, and mice

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Smoking pot causes permanent brain in teenage users, according to a US study involving tests on mice. The study also indicated that young users were more likely to develop psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine experimented with young mice. They exposed them to low doses of the active ingredient found in marijuana for 20 days and discovered that as a result, their brain activity was impaired and that the damage lasted into adulthood.

The scientists examined the brain activity of the young mice that had been exposed to marijuana by looking at their cortical oscillations, which are patterns of activity of neurons in the brain. These activity patterns are abnormal in people who suffer from schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

Even at low, but regular doses, for relatively short periods of time, the cortical oscillations of the young mice were greatly altered, and these changes endured as the mice matured.

The same test was conducted on adult mice that had never been exposed to marijuana until the experiment and they found that their cortical oscillations remained normal, despite the exposure.

These tests have led scientists to believe that the human brain will respond similarly to marijuana exposure, specifically at the critical stage of development in adolescence. The researchers are not sure if any of this damage can be reversed, but are looking at treating psychiatric disorders, which do not respond to medication, by manipulating cortical oscillations.

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