New research shows a clear link between early and regular cannabis use by youth and alterations in brain circuits that support aspects of executive functioning.
The study finds that the frequent and regular use of cannabis in youth alters the neural circuits by which the mind governs, regulates, and guides behaviors, impulses and decision-making based on goals.
The researchers found that these brain alterations were less intense in individuals who recently stopped using cannabis.
However, the alterations were greater and more persistent in individuals who started using cannabis earlier, while the brain is still developing.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
“Most adults with problematic substance use now were most likely having problems with drugs and alcohol in adolescence, a developmental period during which the neural circuits underlying cognitive control processes continue to mature,” said lead author Marilyn Cyr, Ph.D.,