It Turns Out Smoking A Lot Of Weed Could Really Be Affecting Your Memory
Marijuana use may trigger a drop in verbal memory as one approaches middle age.
According to Yahoo! News, a research team led by Dr. Reto Auer of Switzerland's University of Lausanne found a link between longterm use of marijuana and performance on verbal memory tests.
The team based the findings off a 25-year study of about 3,500 US adults who completed a standardized test during its last year. When the study began, more than 80 percent of participants aged 18 to 30 reported using marijuana.
By the time they reached middle age, only 12 percent reported they continued the habit.
The standardized test gauged their abilities to recall a list of 15 words, as well as their processing speeds and decision-making skills.
The participants who continued smoking later in life were reportedly able to recall the least amount of words.
Researchers determined for each additional five years of marijuana use, 50 percent of marijuana users failed to remember one more word from the list.
Dr. Auer told Reuters,
Recreational marijuana users use it to get high, to benefit from the transient change it produces. But this transient effect might have long-term consequences on the way the brain processes information and could also have direct toxic effects on neurons.
Processing speed and other brain functions were seemingly unaffected by marijuana, Medical Daily reports.
This suggests longterm marijuana use impairs just one area of the brain.
Dr. Auer noted, however, the study did not conclude memory loss is a direct result of marijuana use.
Users did not report how much marijuana they smoked, only how many years they remained users and how often they smoked in the month before taking the standardized test.
But in an editorial released alongside the study, Dr. Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland and Dr. Michael Lynskey of King's College London referenced previous research testing the IQs of marijuana users over time.
Those who started smoking at the earliest ages and remained frequent users apparently saw their IQs drop significantly more than those who never smoked or quit.
Dr. Auer told Reuters future studies could garner more solid results by measuring how marijuana affects one's brain structure.
Along with Dr. Hall and Dr. Lynskey, he agreed the general population must be made aware of the potential effects of marijuana use as marijuana becomes legal in more US states.