Cannabis may boost perceptual reasoning in teenage brains, researchers say

It increases their brains' gray matter volume.

  • Occasional use, defined as once or twice, can actually increase grey matter volume.
  • Unfortunately, anxiety is also increased.
  • 35 percent of 10th graders have experimented with cannabis.


It's all about the Gray Matter Volume (GMV)

Medical Marijuana Patient Battles Cancer. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Occasional cannabis use by teenagers can actually expand the structure of certain regions of the brain, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience on January 14 illustrates.

"Occasional" cannabis use is defined as using the substance once or twice, rather than regularly. From the report: "We identified extensive regions in the bilateral medial temporal lobes as well as the bilateral posterior cingulate, lingual gyri, and cerebellum that showed greater GMV in the cannabis users."

​What does it mean?

Photo credit: FRED TANNEAU / AFP / Getty Images

Increased brain volume in those regions is associated with an increase in performance on tests related to perceptual reasoning, but also — notably — an increase in generalized anxiety symptoms.

(And as anyone who's consumed too many edibles or smoked too much of a strong weed strain can attest to, the increased anxiety struggle is real.)

Because at least 35 percent of U. S. 10th graders have reported using cannabis, and that number goes up with each grade, the long-term study of neurocognitive effects are very much worth studying in depth.

Photo credit: Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images

Some studies have already shown that heavy cannabis usage by young people can impair their memory as their brains mature. The effect appears to be permanent, as it's occurring while the brain is developing and growing.

Other studies have looked at whether or not cannabis usage by teens can create conduct problems; in fact, the reverse is indicated. In other words, those who already have conduct problems gravitate toward cannabis usage.

Some may be self-medicating, as well — which begs the question: If they don't have access to cannabis, are heavier-impact pharmaceuticals or alcohol more likely?

Photo credit: Taylor Weidman / Getty Images

Indeed, in various tests on rats, exposure to THC during puberty increases cognitive difficulties as those animals mature. And others have shown not nearly as much of an effect.

As more states legalize cannabis for both medical an recreational usage, which by definition will increase access to it, this study illustrates a clear need for even more research of cannabis effects on growing brains.

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The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.

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Technology & Innovation
  • Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
  • The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
  • The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.

Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.

The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.

Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.

Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.

What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.

For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.

Check out how Nuro's vehicles work: