Quantifying the neurocognitive impact of cannabis across the life span: The evolution of memory deficits. [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Also known as: Memory deficits in adolescent and adult cannabis users.

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Nadia Solowij (Principal investigator) ,  Dr Marc Seal Prof Daniel Lubman Prof Philip Mcguire

Brief description Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance, and its use is particularly prevalent during adolescence and young adulthood. Adolescence is also a period when the brain undergoes significant structural and functional change, and there is growing evidence that the brain may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances during this developmental stage. There is increasing evidence that long term or heavy use of cannabis impairs learning and memory. It is thought that the continued bombardment of the brain s own natural cannabis-like neurotransmitter system by the active chemicals within cannabis disrupts critical aspects of brain function. This research seeks to improve our understanding of the way that cannabis use affects memory and how these problems might develop or worsen from adolescence to adulthood. This project will investigate memory processes in cannabis users using functional brain imaging techniques. This will allow identification of regions of the brain that are not working efficiently when cannabis users attempt to memorise and recall words from a list and recognise patterns. The project will examine how different levels of cannabis use (long term vs. short term and heavy vs. light) may affect brain function during learning and memory, and determine if the observed memory problems depend upon the age at which cannabis use began and the gender of the user. The findings from this research will substantially contribute to our understanding of the ways in which cannabis use affects brain function and potentially triggers serious psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. The findings will contribute to guidelines regarding hazardous levels of cannabis use within adolescent and adult populations, and will inform debate, policy, education and treatment.

Funding Amount $AUD 516,572.77

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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