Does long-term cannabis use have negative consequences for our brains?
According to a study published last year in the Journal of American Psychiatry titled "Long-term Cannabis Users Show Lower Cognitive Reserves and Smaller Hippocampal Volume in Midlife,” yes it can. The research was recently looked at again by the San Francisco-based addictions psychiatrist, Timmen L. Cermak, M.D. whose piece highlights the main points of the research, co-authored by Madeline H. Meier, Ph.D.
First things first, what is the hippocampus?
Plasticity And Vulnerability
The hippocampus, a complex brain structure embedded deep into the temporal lobe, plays a key role in learning and memory. Cermak explained how studies on London taxi drivers confirmed its plasticity: the more the drivers memorized streets and alleys in the city, the larger their hippocampus grew.
On the other hand, the hippocampus is also vulnerable, writes Cermak, referring to studies showing cannabis use leads to making it smaller. In addition, other researchers have pointed to the connection between decreased hippocampal volume and cognitive decline.
Another recent study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology looked …