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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Marijuana use and its cognitive effects

Although recent papers have been released suggesting that it is Alcohol and not Marijuana that is the most harmful drug, this study by Staci Gruber highlights the risks that are still present in long term, young-starting marijuana use.

Cognitive flexibility - the ability to switch behavioural responses according to feedback from your surroundings, was found to be highly affected after long-term marijuana use.

Using a Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, the participants are shown four cards that differ in color, symbol, and value. The participants are asked to sort the cards, but not told what the rules are, leaving them to work out what the rules must be when receiving 'correct' or 'incorrect' feedback. Half way through the rules are changed and the participant must change their behaviour accordingly. This is an indicator of how strong a participant's cognitive flexibility is.

But what did they find?

Habitual marijuana users made more repeated errors than those that started after 16 and who did not habitually use marijuana and also had difficulty maintaining rules once they were set.

I guess it's not particularly new, and kind of obvious - but the study concluded that the younger you start, and the more you use, the greater effect Marijuana has on your cognitive functioning.

Those that claim Marijuana has no long term on them be warned! You may be killing your brain without even knowing it!

Link to Article

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