Dopamine is a chemical produced by the brain, and it serves as a neurotransmitter of signals to the brain and other significant areas of the human body. It is responsible for several processes in the brain related to motor activities, cognitive reasoning, mood swings, memory, behavior, sleep, learning, and attention.
Abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain may cause brain diseases like Parkinson's disease, dopa-responsive dystonia, schizophrenia, ADHD and even drug addiction. In addition, this chemical affects the compulsive reaction of the brain towards drug use. Recreational drugs like marijuana can trigger our brain to release dopamine, which stimulates pleasure.
A recent study revealed that prolonged use of marijuana may impair the dopaminergic system, which may lead to slow learning and absorption, as well as behavioral changes. Another effect is that it disrupts the user's memory.
We don't know whether decreased dopamine was a preexisting condition or the result of heavy cannabis use, said study lead author Anissa Abi-Dargham in a news release.
A team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) conducted the study, which investigated cannabis-dependent adults and their dopamine levels through positron emission tomography (PET).
Cannabis may have many therapeutic advantages, but the results of the study seemed to point out that marijuana is not suitable for people with psychological disorders.
The research team believes that more studies should focus on the impact of marijuana use on brain functioning. In light of the more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana, especially by young people, we believe it is important to look more closely at the potentially addictive effects of cannabis on key regions of the brain, Abi-Dargham added.