A brand new study published in the American journal with the maximum impact factor in worldwide, Molecular Psychiatry, shows that consumers of cannabis are more prone to experiencing false memories.
The analysis was conducted by researchers from the Human Neuropsychopharmacology group in the Biomedical Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau and from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with the Brain Cognition and Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL - University of Barcelona). Among the known consequences of have this drug is the recollection issues it can cause. Persistent consumers show more difficulties compared to the overall public in recovering recollections and retaining new info. The brand new study also shows that the chronic use of cannabis causes distortions in memory, making it simpler for recollections that are false or fantastic to appear.
On occasions, the brain can recall things that never happened. Our recollection is made up of malleable process which is created increasingly and consequently is subject to distortions or even false memories. These recollection "mistakes" are seen more often in several neurological and psychiatric illnesses, but can be observed in the healthy people, and become more common as we age. One of the very frequent false memories we have are from our childhood which we believe to remember since the people around us have clarified them to us over and over again of situations. Keeping an adequate control over the "veracity" of our memories is a complex cognitive task which allows us to have our own awareness of reality as well as shapes our behaviour, predicated on past experiences.
In the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from Sant Pau and Bellvitge compared a group of long-term consumers of cannabis to a healthy control group while they worked on learning a succession of words. After a couple of minutes they were once again shown the first words, together with new words which were either semantically related or unrelated. All participants were requested to identify the words belonging to the initial list. Cannabis consumers believed to have already seen the semantically new words that were associated to a higher degree than participants in the control group. By using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers discovered that cannabis consumers showed a lower activation in areas of the brain associated with memory procedures and to the general control of cognitive resources.
The study found recollection deficiencies regardless of the fact that participants had stopped consuming cannabis one month before participating in the study. Although they had not have the drug in a month, the more cannabis had post traumatic stress disorder been used by the patient throughout their life, key to storing memories, the lower the level of action in the hippocampus.
The results demonstrate that cannabis consumers are more vulnerable to suffering memory distortions weeks after not consuming the drug. This indicates that cannabis has a protracted effect on the brain mechanisms which allow us to discern between actual and imagined events. These recollection mistakes can cause difficulties in legal cases, because of the effects the testimonies of witnesses as well as their victims can have, for example. Nevertheless, from a clinical viewpoint, the results point to the fact that a long-term use of cannabis could worsen problems with age-related memory loss.