Weed’s impact on teenagers: UIC neuroscientist Kuei Tseng uses rats to study marijuana’s effects on adolescent brainsPosted by On

The experiment’s setup, or rig, as Kuei Tseng calls it, looks like a cartoon version of something cobbled together by a mad scientist.

Clear plastic hoses snake from jars and containers down to two large, liquid-filled beakers on the floor and back up and around, ending in a tiny pipette poised at an angle under a high-powered microscope. It’s called a patch clamp, and it sounds like a backyard water fountain as it gurgles in the lab on the sixth floor of a University of Illinois Chicago medical building on Wood Street.

A lab assistant spins a dial, bringing into focus on a screen a rodent brain cell about one-seventh the diameter of a human hair. It’s from a teenage lab rat that was high on tetrahydrocannabinol — THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The cell will live for only about five hours in this solution. But its reaction to stimuli during the experiment offers Tseng, 50, who is one of the country’s foremost neuroscientists, and his research team clues regarding an important question:

How bad is smoking or ingesting weed for a teenager?

High on marijuana, Tseng’s lab rats, chosen at an age that equates to a human’s teenage years, are being studied to better understand long-term effects of cannabis on the teenage brain.

It’s no secret that getting high makes it harder for teenagers — and…

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