Cannabis customers exhibit greater susceptibility to false memories



A new study published in the American journal with the maximum impact factor in worldwide, Molecular Psychiatry, reveals 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 all the Brain Cognition and Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL - University of Barcelona). One of the known consequences of have this drug is the recollection issues it can cause. Persistent consumers show more difficulties compared to the overall population in memories that are recovering and retaining new info. The new study also shows the long-term utilization of cannabis causes distortions in memory, which makes it easier for fanciful or bogus recollections to seem.

On occasions, the brain can remember things which never occurred. Our memory consists of a malleable process which is created progressively and consequently is subject to distortions or false memories. These recollection "mistakes" are seen more Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often in several neurological and psychiatric illnesses, but can be found in the healthy population, and become more common as we age. Some of the most common false memories we have are of scenarios from our youth which we believe to remember because the folks around us have explained them to us over and over again. Keeping an adequate control over the "veracity" of our recollections is a complex cognitive task which allows us to have our own awareness of reality as well as shapes our behaviour, based on previous experiences.

In the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from Sant Pau and Bellvitge compared a group of chronic consumers of cannabis to a healthy control group while they worked on learning a series of words. After several minutes they were once more shown the original 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 connected words that were new to a degree that was higher than participants in the control group. By using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers discovered that cannabis consumers revealed a lower activation in areas of the brain associated with the general control of cognitive resources and to memory processes.

The study found recollection deficiencies regardless of the fact that participants had stopped have cannabis one month before participating in the analysis. Although they had not consumed the drug in a month, the more the patient had used cannabis throughout their life, key to keeping memories, the lower the amount of action in the hippocampus.

The results show that cannabis consumers are more exposed to suffering memory distortions, even weeks after not consuming the drug. This indicates that cannabis has a protracted effect on the brain mechanisms which enable us to differentiate between actual and fictional events. These memory blunders can cause difficulties in legal cases, for instance, due to the effects the testimonies of their victims and witnesses can have. Nevertheless, from a clinical viewpoint, the results point to the truth that a continual utilization of cannabis could worsen problems with age-related memory loss.