(STUDY FINDS) -- CHICAGO — As marijuana continues to be decriminalized across the United States, the dangers of children obtaining and using the drug are also coming into light. Now, a recent study shows how adolescent cannabis use could change the way neurons function in certain areas of teens’ brains, specifically the regions behind decision-making, planning, and self-control.
The study, conducted by University of Illinois at Chicago psychologists, used an animal model of the structural development of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls all high-level cognitive functions.
Within the pre-frontal cortex, there is a support structure called the perineuronal net, which forms a type of protective shield using proteins around inhibitory cells. This helps secure the cells’ connections with excitatory neurons and regulate overall PFC activity. Scientists know that perineuronal net formation can be influenced by narcotic use, but the specific effects of marijuana are not yet known.
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