By studying a large number of imaging scans, researchers have identified conditions and behaviors that could make the brain age prematurely, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcohol use, and the use of cannabis.
The scientists found that they could predict a person’s age from the pattern of blood flow in their brain. Accelerated brain aging was calculated as the difference between chronological age and brain estimated age. Cannabis use caused accelerated aging of 2.8 years while alcohol abuse resulted in aging of only 0.6 years. Schizophrenia was the leading cause of brain aging at 4 years beyond the norm.