Recent cannabis use is associated with smaller hippocampus volume: High‐resolution segmentation of structural subfields in a large non‐clinical sample
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There is mixed evidence that individuals who use cannabis have reduced hippocampal and amygdalar gray matter volume, potentially because of small sample sizes and imprecise morphological characterization. New automated segmentation procedures have improved the measurement of these structures and allow better examination of their subfields, which have been linked to distinct aspects of memory and emotion. The current study applies this new segmentation procedure to the Human Connectome Project Young Adult dataset (N = 1080) to investigate associations of cannabis use with gray matter volume in the hippocampus and amygdala. Results revealed significant bilateral inverse associations of hippocampal volume with recent cannabis use (THC+ urine drug screen; P < .005). Hippocampal subfield analyses indicated these associations were primarily driven by the head of the hippocampus, the first section of the cornu amonis (CA1), the subicular complex, and the molecular layer of the hippocampus. No associations were detected for age of cannabis initiation, the frequency of cannabis use across the lifespan, or the lifetime presence of cannabis use disorder. In one of the largest studies to date, these results support the hypothesis that recent cannabis use is linked to reduced hippocampal volume, but that this effect may dissipate following prolonged abstinence. Furthermore, these results clarify the specific subfields which may be most associated with recent cannabis use.
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