The findings of a new study published in the journal Hippocampus has found a link between long term use of marijuana use among teens, and a negative impact on the memory. The method of usage by teenage marijuana connecting to poor long term memory later in life was studied by the researchers at Northwestern University.
“The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we use every day to solve common problems and to sustain our relationships with friends and family,” senior author of the study, Dr. John Csernansky from Northwestern University, explained.
Young adults who abused cannabis as teens performed about 18 per cent worse on long term memory tests when compared to adults who never used the drug was found by the researchers. Greater differences were in the shape of their hippocampus, the longer they used it was an added information.
Researchers believe that this abnormal shape may reflect damage to the hippocampus, including the structure’s neurons, axons or supportive environments.
The researchers took in participants between 16-17 years of age, and conducted a narrative memory test which involved listening to a series of stories around 1 minute long. The subjects were then asked to recall how much they could remember around 20-30 minutes later.
“It is possible that the abnormal brain structures reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to marijuana abuse,” the lead researcher of the study added. “But evidence that the longer the participants were abusing marijuana, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape suggests marijuana may be the cause.”
The researchers made use of computer programs that performed detailed mappings of the MRI scans of these study subjects. The researchers believe that marijuana’s active ingredients could be responsible for causing damage to the brain’s neurons, axons and the supportive environment.