Cannabis use may lead to false memories
Cannabis users are more prone to have distorted memories and can even end up imagining situations that actually never happened, a new study has found.
One of the known consequences of consuming this drug is the memory problems. Habitual consumers show more difficulties than the general population in recovering memories and retaining new data and facts, researchers said.
The researchers conducted a study at the Biomedical Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau and from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona also shows that the chronic use of cannabis causes distortions in memory, making it easier for imaginary or false memories to appear.
On occasions, the brain can remember things that never occurred. Our memory contains a flexible process which is created progressively and therefore is subject to distortions or even false memories.
These memory “mistakes” are seen more frequently in several neurological and psychiatric disorders, but can also be observed in the healthy population, and become more common as we age.
One of the most ordinary pseudo memories we have are of situations from our childhood which we believe to remember because the people around us have explained them to us over and over again.
Researchers compared a bunch of habitual consumers of cannabis to a healthy control group while they worked on learning a series of words.
After a few minutes they were shown the original words once again, together with new words which were either semantically related or unrelated.
All participants were asked to classify the words belonging to the original list.
Cannabis consumers supposed to have already seen the grammatically related new words to a higher degree than participants in the control group.
The study found memory deficiencies in spite of the fact that participants had stopped consuming cannabis one month before participating in the study.
Though they had not consumed the drug in a month, the more the patient had used cannabis throughout their life, the lower the level of activity in the hippocampus, key to storing memories, researchers said.
The consequences show that cannabis users are more exposed to suffering memory deficiency, even weeks after not consuming the drug.