Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA

Accelerated Aging Seen on Brain Imaging with Schizophrenia and Cannabis Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA

Dr. Daniel Amen

Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD
Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder
Costa Mesa, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging.

SPECT was used to determine aging trajectories in the brain and which common brain disorders predict abnormally accelerated aging. It examined these functional neuroimaging scans from a large multi-site psychiatric clinic from patients who had many different psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Researchers studied 128 brain regions to predict the chronological age of the patient.

Older age predicted from the scan compared to the actual chronological age was interpreted as accelerated aging.  The study found that a number of brain disorders and behaviors predicted accelerated aging, especially schizophrenia, which showed an average of 4 years of premature aging, cannabis abuse (2.8 years of accelerated aging), bipolar disorder (1.6 years accelerated aging), ADHD (1.4 years accelerated aging) and alcohol abuse (0.6 years accelerated aging).  Interestingly, the researchers did not observe accelerated aging in depression and aging, which they hypothesize may be due to different types of brain patterns for these disorders.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Based on one of the largest brain imaging studies ever done, we can now track common disorders and behaviors that prematurely age the brain. Better treatment of these disorders can slow or even halt the process of brain aging. The cannabis abuse finding was especially important, as our culture is starting to see marijuana as an innocuous substance.  This study should give us pause about it.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Continue to look at the modifiable risk factors associated with brain aging.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: George Perry, PhD, Chief Scientist at the Brain Health Consortium from the University of Texas at San Antonio, said, “This is one of the first population-based imaging studies, and these large studies are essential to answer how to maintain brain structure and function during aging. The effect of modifiable and non-modifiable factors of brain aging will further guide advice to maintain cognitive function.”


J Alzheimers Dis. 2018 Aug 3. doi: 10.3233/JAD-180598. [Epub ahead of print]

Patterns of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow as a Function of Age Throughout the Lifespan.
Amen DG1, Egan S2, Meysami S3, Raji CA4, George N5 

[wysija_form id=”3″]


The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on August 22, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD