About one in five Canadian adolescents uses cannabis (19% of Canadians aged 15-19), and its recent legalization across the country warrants investigation into the consequence of this use on the developing brain. Adolescence is associated with the maturation of cognitive functions, such as working memory, decision-making, and impulsivity control. This is a highly vulnerable period for the development of the brain as it represents a critical period wherein regulatory connection between higher-order regions of the cortex and emotional processing circuits deeper inside the brain are established. It is a period of strong remodeling, making adolescents highly vulnerable to drug-related developmental disturbances. Research presented by Canadian neuroscientists Patricia Conrod, Steven Laviolette, Iris Balodis and Jibran Khokhar at the 2019 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting in Toronto on May 25 featured recent discoveries on the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain.
Tag Archives: brain damage
Since I had that nice infographic on the brain yesterday, I thought this one on brain function might be a useful follow-up.
If you are interested in reading more about that wonderful organ inside your head, feel free to check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)
I feel very strongly about smoking. This is one of those Captain Obvious things to me. It astounds me that anyone who can read will continue to smoke.
The following is excerpted from my Page – How many ways does smoking harm you? Check it out for chapter and verse on the multi-faceted damage that smoking does to your body.
Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable cause of death in the United States.
On average people who smoke die about 10 years sooner than non-smokers. The New England Journal of Medicine.
Smoking triples the risk for cataracts and is also a risk factor for macular degeneration and its response to treatment. Dr. Nicholas Volpe, Tarry Professor and Chairman Department of Opthalmology Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014 about 224,000 new cases of lung cancer and 159,260 cancer deaths caused by tobacco use. The overall survival rate for those with lung cancer, sadly, remains at around 15%. You have less than one chance in six of surviving. Continue reading
A new imaging technique found that some people with high blood pressure also have damage to nerve tracts connecting different parts of the brain, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2015 High Blood Pressure Conference.
The area of brain damage detected is linked to difficulties in certain cognitive skills, decision-making, and the ability to regulate emotions.
“We already have clear ways to explore the damage high blood pressure can cause to the kidneys, eyes, and heart. We wanted to find a way to assess brain damage that could predict the development of dementia associated with vascular diseases,” said Daniela Carnevale, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and assistant professor at Sapienza University of Rome, based in Neuromed Institute.
While there has been a lot of research on hypertension-related brain changes in the grey matter, Carnevale proposed that a look into the brain’s white matter could tell if high blood pressure was having an effect even earlier than what is known.
Researchers used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), an enhancement of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to evaluate and compare the structural and functional properties of the main connections between different brain regions. Fifteen participants were on medication for moderate to severe high blood pressure and 15 participants had normal blood pressure. Participants were also given a cognitive assessment.
The brain imaging found that, while none of the participants showed abnormalities on a standard MRI, the more advanced DTI revealed that participants with high blood pressure had damage to:
• brain fibers that affect non-verbal functions;
• nerve fibers that affect executive functioning and emotional regulation; and
• limbic system fibers, which are involved in attention tasks.
In addition, imaging and laboratory tests indicated damage to the heart and kidneys from high blood pressure.
Researchers also found those with high blood pressure performed significantly worse on two different assessments of cognitive function and memory. However, there were no differences in tests evaluating verbal function or ability to perform daily activities.
“DTI provides a way to evaluate pre-symptomatic brain damage in people with high blood pressure in order to identify possible therapies to help control brain damage and reduce the eventual development of dementia. It is generally accepted that not all available medications have the same impact on different kinds of organ damage,” Carnevale said.
DTI, also called tractography, is not performed in routine medical practice, but the researchers suggest that physicians should start to consider potential brain damage as they treat patients with high blood pressure.
To read further on high blood pressure check out my posts: