A new study published in the American journal with the highest 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 at 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). One of the known consequences of consuming this drug is the recollection issues it can cause. Persistent consumers show more difficulties compared to the general public in retaining new information and recovering recollections. The brand new study also shows the continual use of cannabis causes distortions in memory, making it simpler for recollections that are fantastic or bogus to appear.
On occasions, the brain can remember things that never happened. Our memory is made up of malleable process which is created increasingly and so is subject to distortions or false memories. These memory "mistakes" are seen more frequently in several neurological and psychiatric disorders, but can also be found in the healthy population, and become more common as we age. One of the most typical false memories we have are of situations from our childhood which we believe to recall since the people around us have described them to us over and over again. Keeping an adequate control over the "veracity" of our memories is a complex cognitive task which allows us to have our own sense of reality and also shapes our behavior, based on past encounters.
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 on learning a series of words while they worked. After a few minutes they were once more shown the first words, together with new words which were either semantically related or unrelated. All participants were asked to identify the words belonging to the first list. Cannabis consumers considered to have seen the new words that were associated that were semantically to a higher degree than participants in the control group. By using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers found that cannabis consumers revealed a lower activation in areas of the brain associated with memory procedures and to the general control of cognitive resources.
The analysis found memory deficiencies despite the fact that participants had quit have cannabis before participating in the study. Although they had not have the drug in a month, the more cannabis had been used by the patient throughout their life, crucial to keeping memories, the lower the degree of activity in the hippocampus.
The results show that post traumatic stress cannabis consumers are more exposed to suffering memory distortions weeks after not have the drug. This suggests that cannabis has a prolonged effect on the brain mechanisms which allow us to differentiate between actual and fantastic events. These recollection errors can cause difficulties because of the effects the testimonies of their casualties as well as witnesses can have, for example, in legal cases. However, from a clinical perspective, the results point to the truth that a long-term utilization of cannabis could worsen issues with age-associated memory loss.