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by DC on August 15, 2014

in Dopamine, Epigenetics, neuroplasticity, Neurotoxins

August 9, 2014
American Psychological Association (APA)
Frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to psychologists. “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said one expert.

Marijuana (stock image).
Credit: © riccardo bruni / Fotolia

Frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to psychologists discussing public health implications of marijuana legalization at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention.


“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Marijuana use is increasing, according to Lisdahl, who pointed to a 2012 study showing that 6.5 percent of high school seniors reported smoking marijuana daily, up from 2.4 percent in 1993. Additionally, 31 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 25) reported using marijuana in the last month. People who have become addicted to marijuana can lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood, according to Lisdahl, referring to a 2012 longitudinal study of 1,037 participants who were followed from birth to age 38.

Brain imaging studies of regular marijuana users have shown significant changes in their brain structure, particularly among adolescents, Lisdahl said. Abnormalities in the brain’s gray matter, which is associated with intelligence, have been found in 16- to 19-year-olds who increased their marijuana use in the past year, she said. These findings remained even after researchers controlled for major medical conditions, prenatal drug exposure, developmental delays and learning disabilities, she added.

“When considering legalization, policymakers need to address ways to prevent easy access to marijuana and provide additional treatment funding for adolescent and young adult users,” she said. She also recommended that legislators consider regulating levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the major psychoactive chemical in marijuana, in order to reduce potential neurocognitive effects.

Some legalized forms of marijuana have higher levels of THC than other strains, said Alan Budney, PhD, of Dartmouth College. THC is responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. Some research has shown that frequent use of high potency THC can increase risk of acute and future problems with depression, anxiety and psychosis. “Recent studies suggest that this relationship between marijuana and mental illness may be moderated by how often marijuana is used and potency of the substance,” Budney said. “Unfortunately, much of what we know from earlier research is based on smoking marijuana with much lower doses of THC than are commonly used today.” Current treatments for marijuana addiction among adolescents, such as brief school interventions and outpatient counseling, can be helpful but more research is needed to develop more effective strategies and interventions, he added.

Additionally, people’s acceptance of legalized medical marijuana use appears to have an effect on adolescents’ perception of the drug’s risks, according to Bettina Friese, PhD, of the Institute for Research and Evaluation in California. She presented results from a 2013 study of 17,482 teenagers in Montana, which found marijuana use among teenagers was higher in counties where larger numbers of people voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2004. In addition, teens in counties with more votes for the legalization of medical marijuana perceived marijuana use to be less risky. The research findings suggest that a more accepting attitude toward medical marijuana may have a greater effect on marijuana use among teens than the actual number of medical marijuana licenses available, Friese said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association (APA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


August 14, 201, University of Adelaide
There’s now overwhelming evidence that a child’s future health is influenced by more than just their parents’ genetic material, and that children born of unhealthy parents will already be pre-programmed for greater risk of poor health, according to University of Adelaide researchers.
In a feature paper called “Parenting from before conception” published in the journal Science, researchers at the University’s Robinson Research Institute say environmental factors prior to conception have more influence on the child’s future than previously thought.
“This really is a new frontier for reproductive and developmental research,” says corresponding author and Director of the University’s Robinson Research Institute, Professor Sarah Robertson.
“It’s only been in the last 10 years that the science community has been seriously discussing these issues, and only in the last five years that we’ve begun to understand the mechanisms of how this is happening — with much of the work conducted right here at the University of Adelaide.”
The paper concludes that parental influences on a child begin before conception, because stored environmental factors in the egg and sperm are contributing more than just genetic material to the child.
“Many things we do in the lead up to conceiving is having an impact on the future development of the child — from the age of the parents, to poor diet, obesity, smoking and many other factors, all of which influence environmental signals transmitted into the embryo,” Professor Robertson says.
“People used to think that it didn’t matter, because a child represented a new beginning, with a fresh start. The reality is, we can now say with great certainty that the child doesn’t quite start from scratch — they already carry over a legacy of factors from their parents’ experiences that can shape development in the fetus and after birth. Depending on the situation, we can give our children a burden before they’ve even started life.”
This includes a higher risk of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The likelihood of conditions like anxiety and immune dysfunction can also be affected.
Professor Robertson says current research is also showing that the fathers have a much greater role to play in this than previously thought.
Professor Robertson says this news is not all doom and gloom for would-be parents. “A few lifestyle changes by potential parents and improvements in the right direction, especially in the months leading up to conception, could have a lasting, positive benefit for the future of their child,” she says.
Journal Reference:
1. M. Lane, R. L. Robker, S. A. Robertson. Parenting from before conception. Science, 2014; 345 (6198): 756 DOI: 10.1126/science.1254400



by DC on June 29, 2014

in Brain




by DC on June 17, 2014

in Uncategorized

Somethings just don’t require science to confirm! This doggie-toddler schnoodle is flooding both bodies and minds with the bliss of our healthy, naturally occurring brain chemical, oxytocin. When we create it, as we do with anything we really love, it’s easy to wonder why we would settle for the other option, anxiety-charged dopamine, often delivered to us compliments of smartphones and video games! Tenderness, caring and compassion, or stress and violence? Hmmmmmmm??? Nice to know we always have a choice!


In the middle of the night a loud unfamiliar woman’s voice in our bedroom jolted us out of a deep sleep. “Text message from 805 467-9803.” It was 4:30 in the morning. After twenty incredibly annoying minutes fumbling around with endless setting possibilities we discovered that a feature on Mike’s new smart phone had accidentally engaged in “drive mode”.

In addition to yawning and whining, I began thinking about the power of our devices to forcibly interrupt our thoughts, emotions, and activities, to take over our lives. Our mystery voice was a quirky problem, but not all that unusual as random tech-related distractions go. New device, feature or app? Stop. Buy it. Figure it out. Use it. Google Play and Apple’s App Store both have more than 700,000 apps available for download.

Beyond our statistical willingness to compromise health, work and school achievement, relationships, and safety for a media “fix”, just how far will we go to sacrifice time, money, and personal power to the screen gods?

• Are we so distracted by our devices that we’re mindlessly handing legislators a pass on responsible governance?

Absorbed in screen media, has Washington become just one more form of “reality” entertainment – free of any responsibility for authentic accountability?

While our serious issues grow larger and more intractable every day, according to Bloomberg, people over age 15 spend an average of 58 percent of their leisure time watching television, playing games and using the Internet. A Harris Poll reported that even several years ago we were spending 13 hours a week gaming on computers and consoles, and, that anyone over the age of 2 is watching live television an average of 34 hours each week, plus another three to six hours of taped programs (Nielsen Report).

• Are we so distracted by our devices that monumental income disparity between the super-rich and everyone else grows unchecked, without powerful push-back?

Absorbed in our entertainment devices, who has time to take action to change corporate and government policies supporting a continuation of this inequality?

In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office reported that incomes of the wealthiest 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent, whereas the income of the remaining 99 percent rose 1 percent. While the middle class disappears and the poor become poorer, the average user of screen media spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, using social media and other forms of online communication (LiveScience).

Have our electronic entertainment and communication addictions become modernity’s version of Rome’s “Bread and Circus”, Huxley’s mind-controlling palliative, soma, in Brave New World to control the masses. Or, is this the advent of a new feudal system of consumers, kept quiet with endless electronic distractions, indentured by debt to the suppliers of their entertainment fixes, and unable to think or act on their own behalf. Heads down in our devices, how would we know?



May 27, 2014

USA Today reports that in America there has been, on average, a mass murder (defined as 4 or more victims) every 2 weeks since 2006. Troubled minds have always made up a predictable percentage of our population. Historically, access to guns in America has been easy. So, what is different now? No amount of mental […]

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March 18, 2014

No amount of mental health care and gun control can stop violence in a population of children trained by hours of media to see violence as a way of life. First person shooter games are turning out young killers whose brains and motor skills are wired for stalking and killing. Winning is based on the […]

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Older fathers linked to offspring’s serious psychiatric and academic problems

February 28, 2014

  Examining an immense data set — everyone born in Sweden from 1973 until 2001 — the researchers documented a compelling association between advancing paternal age at childbearing and numerous psychiatric disorders and educational problems in their children, including autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance abuse problems. Academic problems included failing grades, […]

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Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to ADHD in Children

February 27, 2014

 Date: February 25, 2014 The UCLA researchers used the Danish National Birth Cohort, a nationwide study of pregnancies and children, to examine pregnancy complications and diseases in offspring as a function of factors operating in early life.  The researchers studied 64,322 children and mothers who were enrolled in the Danish cohort from 1996 to 2002. […]

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Growing Number of Chemicals Linked with Brain Disorders in Children

February 16, 2014

 February 15, 2014,  Lancet Neurology. “The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis. They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of […]

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