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Paranoid or Placid? Scans Show Pot's Effect on Brain
Date:1/6/2012

chosis," he said, even as marijuana's other principle ingredient, THC, raises the risk for developing psychotic complications.

Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said the current work goes a long way toward "connecting all the dots" when it comes to understanding the marijuana experience.

"What we're talking about here is the kind of perception, in this case prompted by marijuana, that leads a person to think that other people who are just talking in the subway are all actually talking about him," he noted. "Or people who are just tipping their hat for no reason are actually doing so specifically about him. And so this paper strikes me as important, because it actually looks at this kind of increased anxiety and increased hyper-alertness which are major factors in psychosis -- and then finds out what's going on in the brain among people who experience them.

"So I think this provides another brick in the foundation when talking about direct causality," he said. "It links the psychological state marijuana brings about with a specific psychophysical response in the brain. And that's very, very interesting."

More information

There's more on marijuana at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

SOURCES: Sagnik Bhattacharyya, M.D, Ph.D., department of psychosis studies, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London; Joseph Coyle, M.D, Eben S. Draper professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, Boston; January 2012, Archives of General Psychiatry


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