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Ever wonder why your teen drove without a license? Drank alcohol, used drugs, dyed their hair blue, or accidentally lit the house on fire? Join CONNECT as we welcome Dr. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, a recognized leader in the study of adolescent behavior and the brain to answer these questions, learn what makes your teen tick, and more.  We are very excited to have Kim Gardner of NAMI Utah as the moderator for this event.

In addition to her position as Director of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of Utah, Dr. Yurgelun-Todd has done several studies on the impacts of marijuana on the developing teen brain and says the impacts are clear. Magnetic resonance imaging shows a change in structures and connectivity in the brains of teens who use marijuana compared to the brains of teens who did not.  “It changes how the brain works,” she said. “Specifically in ways related to attention and motivation. In addition, early exposure to marijuana tends to lead individuals to other types of drugs.” While she has documented the short-term risks of marijuana use on teen brains, Yurgelun-Todd says there is still research to be done on the long-term impacts. It is believed that teen marijuana use could permanently alter some of the brain’s connectivity and structures leading to less effective information processing. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health is now enrolling participants to look at these possible long-term effects.  “It’s a 10-year longitudinal study,” Yurgelun-Todd said. “The idea is that we will be able to look at brain development and behavior in non-using adolescents as well as in those who initiate drug use in adolescence.”

Deborah Yurgelun-Todd is also a primary investigator with the University of Utah’s NIH-funded Large-scale Study to Understand How Teens’ Life Experiences Impact the Brain.

Deborah Yurgelun-Todd completed her doctorate in Psychology from Harvard University and subsequently trained at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She serves as Director of the Salt Lake City Mental Illness Research and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for the VISN 19 VA Health Care System and Director of the Salt Lake City VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment.  Her recent work has focused on understanding the neurobiologic basis of impulsivity, mood regulation and decision-making as risk factors for adolescent behavioral disorders.

We look forward to you joining us.


One Comment

  1. Nora Macchia May 30, 2017 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Is this talk appropriate for an 11 year old who will be starting middle school in the fall or is it geared towards parents only?

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