Study Finds What Nicotine Does To Marijuana’s Effect On The Brain

How researchers study the impacts of marijuana on the brain is altering. Up until just recently cannabis research largely left out tobacco users from its individual pool, however scientists at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas have actually found reason to desert this practice, discovering substantial differences in the brains of people who use both tobacco and marijuana and the brains of those who only utilize marijuana.

In a study that appears online in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, scientists report an association in between smaller sized hippocampal brain volume and marijuana usage. Although the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain connected with memory and knowing, is considerably smaller sized in both the marijuana group and marijuana plus tobacco group compared to non-using controls and individuals who utilize tobacco solely, the relationship to memory performance is unique.

Hippocampal size of nonusers shows a direct relationship to memory function; the smaller sized the hippocampus, the poorer the memory function. People who use marijuana and tobacco show an inverse relationship, i.e., the smaller the hippocampus size, the higher the memory function. In addition, the number of nicotine cigarettes smoked daily in the marijuana and nicotine utilizing group seems related to the intensity of hippocampal shrinking. The higher the variety of cigarettes smoked each day, the smaller sized the hippocampal volume and the higher the memory performance. There were no significant associations in between hippocampal size and memory efficiency in individuals who only utilize tobacco or only utilize cannabis.

" Around 70% of individuals who utilize marijuana likewise use tobacco," described Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., the research study's primary private investigator and Director of Cognitive Neuroscience of Addicting Habits at the Center for BrainHealth. "Our findings exemplify why the results of cannabis on the brain might not generalize to the large majority of the cannabis using population, since many studies do not represent tobacco use. This study is one of the first to tease apart the distinct results of each compound on the brain in addition to their combined effects."

Dr. Filbey's research study group utilized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze the hippocampus; an area of the brain that is known to have actually modified shapes and size in association with chronic cannabis usage. Individuals completed a substance usage history assessment and neuropsychological tests three days prior to an MRI head scan. The team compared 4 groups: nonusers (people who have actually not had any cannabis or tobacco in the past 3 months), persistent marijuana users (people who utilize marijuana a minimum of 4 times weekly), regular nicotine users (10 or more times daily) and persistent marijuana plus regular nicotine users (at least 4 cannabis uses weekly and 10 or more nicotine uses daily).

" We have always understood that each substance is related to results on the brain and hypothesized that their interaction might not merely be a linear relationship. Our findings validate that the interaction in between cannabis and nicotine is undoubtedly far more complex due to the various mechanisms at play," stated Filbey. "Future research studies need to address these compounding impacts of compounds."

She continued, "The combined usage of marijuana and tobacco is extremely prevalent. For example, a 'blunt' is wrapped in tobacco leaf. A 'spliff' is a joint rolled with tobacco. We really have to understand how the integrated use modifications the brain to actually understand its results on memory function and habits."

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