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Study on rats says regular marijuana use triggers cognitive laziness

Marijuana is currently the most talked about substance in the United States. Many Americans are advocating its use due to its medicinal effects. However, many others oppose its legalization due to the psychoactive properties of cannabis that can cause people to develop indolence if used on a regular basis.

A recent study, published online in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience in August 2016, revealed that the main hallucinogenic ingredient in marijuana, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can hamper decision-making ability.

The findings of the study are based on the knowledge of increasing acceptance of weed. Nevertheless, long-term use has been linked to decreased psychosocial results, possibly due to cognitive decline caused by the drug.

The THC present in cannabis is known for its psychoactive characteristics, other phytocannabinoids in the plant like cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its unique properties. The scientists examined the suggestion that THC hampers related cognitive ability needed to perform for a prolonged period and that the effect of CBD resulted in deterioration of decision making abilities.

The scientists analyzed the extreme effect of administering THC on cognitive ability in male Long-Evans rodents, especially, their readiness to expend their cognitive ability in favor of greater rewards.

THC resulted in increased liking for low-reward work

The scientists used the rodent cognitive effort task (rCET) that had been previously certified to analyze the effects of THC and CBD when administered in isolation. They also observed the effect of simultaneous administration of both THC and CBD on the choice of behavior of the rats regarding their differences in their longing for the rewards and the extent of cognitive effort necessary to attain those rewards.

A detailed analysis of the rats under observation revealed that administration of THC did not hamper the abilities of the rats to function or finish tasks that required cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, administration of THC did not have any impact on the decision-making process when rats were given a choice of either low-effort/low-reward (LR) or high-effort/high-reward (HR) function.

The scientists noted that the administration of THC resulted in significantly increased predilection for the LR as compared to the HR task. However, the rats manifested a shift of choice toward the task that required comparatively lesser cognitive effort for completion.

Stressing on the findings, the authors of the study said, “Strikingly, the magnitude of this effect (THC-induced decrease in the choice of HR trials) was correlated with CB1 receptor density in the mPFC (medial prefrontal cortex) area encompassing prelimbic and anterior cingulate cortices (ACC) – areas previously implicated in task performance.”

Administration of CBD showed no impact on behavioral measures, including the choice made by the rats between the two options differing in reward magnitude. Co-administration of CBD and THC revealed that laziness induced by the administration of THC was reduced to an extent in a subset of rats.

The authors said, “Together, these data implicate the cannabinoid system in decision-making regarding the allocation of cognitive effort, but not necessarily in the performance of such cognitively demanding processes…. and, unlike THC, CBD does not adversely affect executive function, and as such its inclusion in medicinal cannabis is not of primary concern.”

Recovery road map

Among the most people seeking treatment for substance use disorder, disorders pertaining to unbridled cannabis use stands foremost. Extreme marijuana use is linked to various psychological disorders like schizophrenia, anxiousness and depressive behavior.

If you or your loved one is addicted and is looking for help, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for more information on drug addiction rehabilitation centers available in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for further advice on addiction treatment centers.

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