Media Coverage

Nicotine and Cannabis Have Offsetting Effects on Resting Brain Connectivity  – National Institution on Drug Abuse (2019)

A recent NIDA-supported study underlines the fact that drugs used in combination can produce effects that differ from the sum of the drugs’ individual effects. Researchers showed that users of either nicotine or cannabis had reduced connectivity in several brain networks, but that users of both drugs had connectivity similar to that of users of neither.


Dr. Francesca Filbey of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, Dallas, and Dr. Bharat Biswal of the New Jersey Institute of Technology conducted resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) to assess network connectivity in 28 nicotine users, 53 cannabis users, 26 users of both drugs, and 30 nonusers. In rsfMRI, subjects are asked to relax and let their minds wander during imaging. A network’s connectivity when it is at rest provides a baseline indicator of how well its component regions may coordinate when called upon to respond to environmental stimuli or challenges.

Read More

Let scientists study the effect of marijuana as we decide on legalization – Dallas Morning News (2018)

Customers survey a selection of marijuana in large plastic bags at the cannabis-themed Kushstock Festival at Adelanto, Calif., on Oct. 20, 2018. (Richard Vogel / The Associated Press)

Cannabis use is a fact — legal in some places and not in others. Either way, science should be a stronger consideration to inform our policies.

Elsewhere, research has yielded insights that would not have been possible without the ability to study substances in a scientific and controlled setting. Consider that red wine and dark chocolate have properties that are desirable in helping to improve cholesterol, and that cocaine is an excellent topical anesthetic for certain medical procedures.

But what about cannabis (marijuana), a drug gaining in legalization across the U.S. and most recently in Canada? As cannabis develops into a mainstream industry, what has scientific research told us about the risks or benefits of its use?

Read More

Scientists found something strange when they looked at the brains of stoners – Business Insider (2016)

girl smoking marijuana weed


Marijuana’s official designation as a Schedule 1 drug — something with “no accepted medical use” — means it is pretty tough to study.

Yet numerous anecdotal reports, as well as some studies, have linked marijuana with several purported health benefits, from pain relief to helping with certain forms of epilepsy.

Still, experts say more rigorous scientific analyses are needed. Use of marijuana, a psychoactive drug, can come with risks, especially in people who may be prone to addiction or mental illness. 

And now, for the first time, researchers have found a link between daily decadelong weed use and a difference in how the brain processes reward. 

Read More

Long-term marijuana use linked to changes in brain’s reward system – Fox News (2016)

Heidi from Limburg, Belgium, smokes a joint in the Toermalijn coffee shop in Tilburg April 29, 2012. A controversial law that will make it harder for foreign tourists to buy cannabis at the Netherlands' famous coffee shops has been upheld by a Dutch court. The law, which goes into force in three southern provinces on May 1 before going nationwide next year, means coffee shops can only sell cannabis to registered members. Picture taken April 29, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Kooren (NETHERLANDS - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS DRUGS TRAVEL) - RTR31G54

People who use marijuana for many years respond differently to natural rewards than people who don’t use the drug, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who had used marijuana for 12 years, on average, showed greater activity in the brain’s reward system when they looked at pictures of objects used for smoking marijuana than when they looked at pictures of a natural reward — their favorite fruits.

Read More

Regular pot habit changes your brain, may even lower your IQ, study says – CNN (2014)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25:  Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to ban storefront medical marijuana dispensaries and to order them to close or face legal action. The council also voted to instruct staff to draw up a separate ordinance for consideration in about three months that might allow dispensaries that existed before a 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries to continue to operate. It is estimated that Los Angeles has about one thousand such facilities. The ban does not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. The state Supreme Court is expected to consider ruling on whether cities can regulate and ban dispensaries.    (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Using marijuana at an early age could have long-term consequences on your brain and it may even lower your IQ, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers found that compared to nonusers, people who smoked marijuana starting as early as age 14 have less brain volume, or gray matter, in the orbitofrontal cortex. That’s the area in the front of your brain that helps you make decisions.

“The younger the individual started using, the more pronounced the changes,” said Dr. Francesca Filbeythe study’s principal investigator and associate professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. “Adolescence is when the brain starts maturing and making itself more adult-like, so any exposure to toxic substances can set the course for how your brain ends up.”

Read More

Chronic Pot Smoking May Alter Brain, Study Suggests – WebMD (2014)

medical marijuana

Long-term marijuana use appears to alter a person’s brain, causing one region associated with addiction to shrink and forcing the rest of the brain to work overtime to compensate, a new study reports.

MRI scans revealed that people who use pot for years have a smaller-than-usual orbitofrontal cortex, a region in the frontal lobes of the brain that is involved in decision-making and assessing the expected rewards or punishments of an action, said study author Francesca Filbey, from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Read More

Long-Term Pot Use Can Alter Your Brain’s Circuitry, Study Finds – Huffington Post (2016)

After years of recreational marijuana use, you might experience changes in the pathway of your brain — also known as the reward system of your brain, a new study says.

Simply put, researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas Center For Brain Health found that — over time — the drug can disrupt your brain.

Read More