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Research tries to answer if Marijuana alters the way the Human Brain responds to Money


Marijuana does have strong foundations in recreation, medicine, religions and spiritual endeavours but what happens to the human brain when it comes to handling money with pot in the system has been a matter of research. Does it help people move away from the rat race ? Does it hinder prosperity ?

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Researchers of the University of Michigan Medical School conducted a four-year study that involved 108 people in their early 20s. For the purpose of the study, the participants were asked to play a game in which they could potentially win a small amount of money. They had to click a button every time they saw a target on the screen and they were told that, based on their performance, they could win 20 cents or $5; lose the same amounts of money; or have no reward or loss. They were hooked up to an fMRI scanner activities monitored in the nucleus accumbens, the area of the brain that regulates the response to rewards.

The people in the study who more frequently used marijuana showed weaker brain responses over time than those who used the drug less frequently or did not use marijuana at all, according to the findings, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The more marijuana a person smoked, the weaker their brain response, the researchers found.

The new study shows an association between marijuana use and changes in the brain’s reward system, but it does not prove that marijuana use causes the changes, Francesca Filbey, an associate professor of behavioral and brain science at the University of Texas at Dallas, who was not involved in the study, wrote in a related editorial published in the same journal. More research is needed to determine whether the changes are the cause or the consequence of marijuana use, she said.

It adds to other research that has suggested that marijuana use is linked to problems with emotional functioning and academic achievement, and even changes in brain structure, the researchers said.

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Therefore, for people who smoke pot, “there is not as much pleasure that is being received from something that would naturally give somebody pleasure,” study author Mary Heitzeg, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, told Live Science. So the people with lots of money may turn out to be careless spenders and those without may not want much. On the other hand a big risk taking tendency may develop in them which is a doubled edged sword really. We probably need more research on this. But is it worth researching at all may be the million dollar question.

Source: livescience.com


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