AUG 04, 2020 4:05 PM PDT

What happens in the Brain in Cannabis Cravers?

WRITTEN BY: Angela Dowden

Marijuana is sometimes used to help people wean themselves off other drugs addictions, such as to opioids, but can also be craved itself.

A new study looking at reactivity in various regions of the brain in frequent cannabis users gives an inkling as to what is going on in those who become dependent.  

Reporting in a recent issue of Human Brain Mapping researchers at the Center for Brain Health, University of Texas found that brain connectivity during cannabis cravings is not static but has fluctuations in connection patterns, in particular between the central executive network and nucleus accumbens. Participants were examined with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner for the findings.

Similar fluctuations in brain network connectivity have been noted in other craving scenarios, but this is the first time it has been  noted in cannabis users.  It’s interesting to note the characteristics of the areas where there is the most brain crosstalk: the central executive network is a reward-related region, while the nucleus accumbens is an area rich in dopamine.

The study adds to the knowledge base on why people may crave and react to weed, and the changes in chemistry that may be responsible for that.

Lead author Francesca Filbey, PhD, a professor and director of cognitive neuroscience at the Centre for Brain Health, explained: “Now that we have identified there are differences in large-scale brain network patterns in long-term cannabis users when there is craving, we can use these as biomarkers of cannabis use disorder to aid treatment strategies. Future studies are needed to determine how these brain network patterns might change over the course of treatment and recovery”.

Older studies suggest only nine percent of people report abusing cannabis; however more recent evidence has suggested 30 percent of cannabis users develop some degree of a disorder, which can manifest as addiction.

 

Sources: The Growth Op, Neuroscience News

About the Author
  • I'm a journalist and author with many year's experience of writing for both a consumer and professional audience, mostly on nutrition, health and medical prescribing. My background is food science and I'm a registered nutritionist.
You May Also Like
JUL 07, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
How Double-Stranded DNA May Play a Critical Role in Memory and Recall
JUL 07, 2021
How Double-Stranded DNA May Play a Critical Role in Memory and Recall
Breaks in DNA are typically associated with harmful conditions, and the cell has ways to repair this damage. But it's be ...
JUL 23, 2021
Neuroscience
Researchers Switch Fear Response 'On' and 'Off' in Mice
JUL 23, 2021
Researchers Switch Fear Response 'On' and 'Off' in Mice
The fear response can be switched 'on' and 'off' in mice by targeting certain cells in the brain with pu ...
AUG 08, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
How Stress Can Impact Gene Expression in the Brain
AUG 08, 2021
How Stress Can Impact Gene Expression in the Brain
University of Bristol researchers have learned more about how chronic stress may be linked to health problems, both phys ...
SEP 07, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Dogs Can Pick Up the 'Seizure Smell', Alert Their Owners
SEP 07, 2021
Dogs Can Pick Up the 'Seizure Smell', Alert Their Owners
Dogs offer so much more than companionship and unconditional love. New research shows that for patients with epilepsy, t ...
SEP 16, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Medical Opinions Are Often Divided, but Tech Can Bring Them Together
SEP 16, 2021
Medical Opinions Are Often Divided, but Tech Can Bring Them Together
Patients place their faith in medical professionals for making sound clinical decisions based on their diagnoses. But wh ...
SEP 14, 2021
Health & Medicine
This is your brain on doom: Steven Pinker's New Book on Rational and Irrational Societies
SEP 14, 2021
This is your brain on doom: Steven Pinker's New Book on Rational and Irrational Societies
In his new book, cognitive psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, argues for more rational societies
Loading Comments...