Can cannabis affect memory and why is this a big deal?
Not long ago, a team at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University in the Netherlands focused on the topic of the effects of cannabis on the formation of memories. Here is what you need to know.
It is well known that cannabis can indeed affect memory. Some earlier studies have come to the conclusion that both chronic and acute exposure to the substance can impair learning, attention, and even verbal memory.
However, what makes this matter even more significant is the fact that it attracted a lot of interest from a legal perspective. In fact, convictions frequently rely on the memories and testimonies of those who witnessed the events. Nevertheless, our mind can create new memories of events that did not happen and it can also alter or plant false memories into another person’s mind.
Now, let’s get to the most interesting part of it all: to find out whether cannabis has the power to affect a person’s susceptibility to fabricated memories, Kloft and the team at the university examined the effects of intoxication with THC on the memories of 64 people.
A placebo-controlled, randomized trial was carried out by the researchers in which they examined the effects of THC intoxication and the potential to fabricate memory.
Finally, the researchers compared the results with the results of the group that received a placebo. One task involved participants to experience virtual handbag theft. In the initial scenario, the participants were the witnesses, and in the second one, they were the thieves.
After witnessing both scenarios, the research participants were asked some questions about what they experienced. But, during the questioning process, the researchers added false information and asked misleading questions.
Finally, the researchers found that the group that was intoxicated with THC was more likely to form false memories than the group that was given a placebo.
Not only that but the researchers also repeated the same experiment in a week when the THC group was sober, and the findings revealed they had the same susceptibility to creating fabricated memories.
According to the researchers, eyewitnesses and suspects should be interviewed after the substance had left their body and not right after the incidence of the crime. This way, the risk of false reporting may be minimized.
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Written by Hermina Drah