In this interactive session, international neuroscientists Dr Janna Cousijn and Dr Valentina Lorenzetti use their research to answer questions from the audience about cannabis use and its affects. Find out how long cannabis stays in your system, the cannabis culture in Amsterdam and what the research is saying about long-term alterations to the brain.
Dr Valentina Lorenzetti is a Senior Lecturer, Psychological Sciences at the Institute of Psychology and Health and Society, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. She was previously a post-doctoral research fellow of the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, The University of Melbourne. Dr Lorenzetti completed her PhD in 2012 (Department of Psychiatry, the University of Melbourne), which investigated the impact of regular cannabis use on the human brain by employing structural MRI. Dr Lorenzetti has been working on a number of research projects defining brain alterations in a range of psychopathologies (including depression and opiate addiction) and brain development, and the role of psychopathology symptoms in such alterations. Currently, her research focuses on investigating the neural and cognitive differences between this who are and who are not dependent on cannabis, sex differences in problem cannabis and alcohol users and how cannabis affects adolescent neurodevelopment. She is particularly interested in examining the link between emotional processes and cognition by integrating structural and functional MRI data with behavioural and psychophysiology indices.
Dr Janna Cousijn is a researcher in the Department of Developmental Psychology at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. She has an interdisciplinary background in neurobiology, medicine and psychology. An intriguing question central to all her studies is why only some individuals develop an addiction after heavy substance use. She thereby studied the interaction between motivational processes (reward, emotions) and cognitive control in the brain. Dr Cousijn received her Doctorate Cum Laude (awarded <5%) for identifying predictors of cannabis dependence with a novel combination of neuroimaging techniques (structural MRI, functional MRI, connectivity analyses) and neuropsychological tasks applied to a large group of difficult to find cannabis users and closely matched controls. After finishing her PhD, Dr Cousijn became a postdoc at Leiden University where she extended her knowledge on the study of atypical brain development in the context of mental disorders. In 2014 she moved to Utrecht University to work as an Associate Research Scientist responsible for theory development, study design and supervision of PhD students in a prestigious large-scale (6000 children) 10-year longitudinal neuroimaging study on atypical brain development (NWO Zwaartekracht). Recently, she was invited back at the University of Amsterdam as an assistant professor (Tenure) in Clinical Developmental Neuroscience.