Article

Altered brain tissue composition in heavy marijuana users.

Intramural Research Program, Neuroimaging Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH/DHHS, 5500 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224-6823, USA.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Impact Factor: 3.28). 02/2005; 77(1):23-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2004.06.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in the United States; however, previous imaging studies have not detected altered brain structure in marijuana users compared to non-users. Voxel-based morphometry was used to investigate possible differences in brain tissue composition in a group of 11 heavy marijuana users and a group of 8 non-users. All participants were male. Statistical comparisons were made at the voxel level on T1-weighted magnetic resonance images to determine differences in gray matter and white matter tissue density. Compared to non-users, marijuana users had lower gray matter density in a cluster of voxels in the right parahippocampal gyrus (P = 0.0001), and greater density bilaterally near the precentral gyrus and the right thalamus (P < 0.04). Marijuana users also had lower white matter density in the left parietal lobe (P = 0.03), and higher density around the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri on the left side compared to non-users (P < 0.002). Longer duration of marijuana use (in years) was significantly correlated with higher white matter tissue density in the left precentral gyrus (P = 0.045). Our preliminary results suggest evidence of possible structural differences in the brain of heavy marijuana users, and localize regions for further investigation of the effects of marijuana in the brain.

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