New Support for Link Between Cannabis and Schizophrenia
New research from the University of Bergen Norway shows further support for the link between cannabis and schizophrenia. The latest studies show that cannabis causes a temporary cognitive breakdown. This happens even to non-psychotic individuals and can lead to long term psychosis.
The researchers discovered that brain activity patterns in schizophrenic patients who had used cannabis in the past were different to those of regular, non-drug-using schizophrenics. They were able to conclude that cannabis using schizophrenics may have higher cognitive abilities. This means that the cannabis using schizophrenic group was not initially prone to the mental disorder and that their cannabis use may have contributed to the development of schizophrenia.
"While brain activity for both groups was similar, there are subtle differences between schizophrenia sufferers with a history of cannabis use and those who have never used cannabis. These differences lead us to believe that the cognitive weakness leading to schizophrenia is imitated by the effects of cannabis in otherwise non-psychotic people," explains Else-Marie Loeberg, lead author on the article and associate professor of Psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway.
The study included 26 patients. Each person had to listen to two different conversations simultaneously. They were then told to focus on one particular conversation and asked questions about the content of that conversation. Most people find this exercise hard but it is particularly difficult for people with schizophrenia. These people can have low attention spans and have difficulty processing verbal information.
The schizophrenics who had previously used cannabis faired far better in these tests than the non-drug using schizophrenics. They had a higher level of brain activity and got more questions correct.
The researchers believe this is more evidence that cannabis users who suffer from schizophrenia do not have the same predisposition. That means the cannabis use itself puts people at risk of schizophrenia.
While this is just an early study and more research is needed, the knowledge gained is an important step towards understanding the full effect of cannabis on the human body.