Talking Point, Wednesday October 23rd, 1pm - 2pm

Posted on: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Turning Point’s public seminar series is pleased to announce the following presentation by Professor Murat YücelDirector, Monash Clinical & Imaging Neuroscience, Department of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Australia.



The impact of cannabis use on cognitive functioning and brain structure: implications for understanding the neural basis of psychosis

Cannabis is arguably the most hotly debated drug of abuse. Its profound effects on the mind have been known for at least 5000 years and have polarised attitudes, with long-standing controversies surrounding the ‘recreational’ use of cannabis, its legalisation, and its therapeutic potential, as well as harm.

Professor Yücel will present data showing that long term and heavy cannabis use Is associated with significantly reduced brain volumes and white matter integrity in medial temporal and cerebellar regions, as well as, having memory impairment and being more likely to develop sub-threshold psychotic symptoms. Importantly, the associations between cannabis exposure, loss of brain volume/integrity, and severity of psychotic-like experiences are dose-dependent, suggesting that they are intricately linked.

He will also present the results of two recent studies - a meta-analysis and an empirical study, which examined the effects of cannabis use on cognitive functioning in psychotic patients. The findings showed that psychotic patients with an early onset and heavy use of cannabis are associated with superior cognitive functioning compared to psychotic patients without a significant cannabis use history. These findings are interpreted to suggest that heavy cannabis use during early adolescence can be a component cause psychotic disorders in some individuals, despite the fact that cognitive deficits associated with a neurodevelopmental vulnerability are not observed in this same group.

Their recent findings raise questions regarding the use of drugs during adolescence and have important implications for our understanding of the relationship between drug use, brain development and mental health, as well as prevention and early intervention approaches.

Professor Murat Yücel is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who has been working in the field of substance abuse and mental health for ~20 years. In this time, he has become an authority in the area of biological psychiatry and neurobiology of drug addiction and psychosis. His research has fundamentally influenced on thinking across two themes: (i) the neuro-psycho-pharmacological basis of the ‘compulsive/addictive’ behaviours seen across psychiatric and substance related disorders: (ii) understanding the links between heavy cannabis use, the brain and mental health - especially psychosis. He has nearly 200 publications on these and related topics, which have been cited ~7,000 times, and helped obtain >$18 million project funding. He is actively involved in supervising and mentoring students, researchers and clinicians, and plays a consistent role in conveying science to the academic and public community in many forms including professional workshops, conference presentations, public lectures, and media.


Talking Point - Wednesday 23rd October, 1pm – 2pm, at Turning Point, 142 Gertrude Street Fitzroy


FREE SEMINAR – BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL – call 03 8413 8413 or email