It is common knowledge among marijuana smokers that the herb has a noticeable effect on short-term memory and generally leaves users in a very slight cognitive fog, which many find enjoyable. Now, a team of UK scientists from the University of Bristol have conducted tests and developed a theory for the cause of this effect.

The marijuana researchers performed experiments on rats using a compound that replicates the effects of THC. Using sophisticated medical imaging technology, the team analyzed the effects of marijuana on the electrical activity in the rats’ brains. What they found was that while the effect on individual regions of the brain were negligible, the coordination between them, specifically the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, was significantly reduced.

Brain waves in these areas, which are associated with decision making and memory-related processes, appear to fall out of synch under the effects of THC which can account for the reduction in memory retention in habitual users. The purpose of the study was to look into the mechanisms involved in the brain getting out of tune in such a manner. Similar findings have been made when studying individuals with schizophrenia and the researchers believe that “these findings are therefore important for our understanding of psychiatric diseases, which may arise as a consequence of ‘disorchestrated brains’ and could be treated by re-tuning brain activity.”

Marijuana has been known to accelerate the onset on schizophrenia in predisposed individuals, those who would have likely developed the condition either way, and this study certainly gives a potential explanation for this phenomenon. Obviously the experience for the average user is in no way comparable to schizophrenia; in the case of the lab rats, they simply had trouble navigating a maze. Still, its good to know what exactly is behind the classic “stoner moments” so familiar to users, even if it does nothing to help dismiss unfair stereotypes. For now, scientists are just glad to have made “an important step forward in our understanding of how rhythmic activity in the brain underlies thought processes in health and disease.” The study is also another tool for medical marijuana research as it now scientists can look into ways of utilizing this peculiar function for the benefit of patients.

CBS News Article

By: GreenerPastures

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