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"Science Of Learning: Marijuana, Achievement And The Teen Brain" - Claudia Wallis

  • KQED News
  • New York, NY
  • (2017-09-27 00:00:00.0)

A substantial body of research shows that heavy marijuana use that begins in adolescence and continues over many years predicts lower achievement and less overall happiness in life. It has also been linked to a variety of changes in brain anatomy and function, such as altered patterns of connectivity between the two hemispheres and within the prefrontal cortex — the center for higher thinking and learning. Marijuana also appears to be a trigger for schizophrenia in people with underlying vulnerabilities. But it’s difficult to separate the impact of cannabis from other factors, such as poverty and childhood trauma, which increase the odds of using marijuana and which themselves can directly alter the brain. “The fact that this system is changing significantly during adolescence is of major importance,” said Yasmin Hurd, PhD, professor of psychiatry, neuroscience, pharmacology, and systems therapeutics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, chair of Ward-Coleman translational neuroscience and the director of the Center for Addictive Disorders at the Mount Sinai Health System. She wonders if young people would be quite so cavalier about “flooding their brain with marijuana” if they knew that this system is “one of the most important players in regulating communication between nerve cells and therefore in determining multiple levels – from motivation and cognition to motor function.”

- Yasmin Hurd, PhD, Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Systems Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Chair, Ward-Coleman Translational Neuroscience, Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders, Mount Sinai Health System

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The Hechinger Report