Via the London Free Press:
Neuroscientist Steven Laviolette and post-doctoral fellow Christopher Norris from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry mapped how different regions of the brain produce significantly different reactions to marijuana use.
The research shows some pot users experience highly rewarding effects, which could lead to dependence, while the drug leads to negative psychiatric side effects including paranoia, cognitive problems and heightened risk of developing schizophrenia for others.
“The research we did indicates that both of those processes are occurring in the same part of the brain,” Norris said on Friday.
The scientists looked at the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive component of cannabis – on rat brains.
They found THC can produce highly rewarding effects in the region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. THC in this area can also increase the addictive properties of opioid drugs like morphine, while also boosting reward-related activity patterns in the brain’s nerve cells.
Meanwhile, TCH in the posterior area of the same brain region produced highly adverse effects, including schizophrenia-related cognitive and emotional symptoms and nerve cell activity similar to individuals with the psychiatric disorder.
The specific area of someone’s nucleus accumbens that’s more sensitive to TCH may be a critical indicator of whether they’ll experience positive or negative side effects from pot use, the researchers say.
“Some people are going to be more sensitive to the rewarding aspects of THC,” Norris said.
“Some other people, if they’re going to use THC and all that ever happens in negative, it’s not going to be reinforcing for them to keep using it and cause the addiction adaptation to happen in the brain.”
Read full article in the London Free Press.
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