A team of researchers from Northwestern Medicine published a study in the December issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin that they believe could shed light on a possible correlation between adolescent cannabis use, poor working memory, and schizophrenia.
This seems to fly in the face of past studies, which has found that cannabis may help improve cognitive functioning and inhibit psychotic symptoms in those suffering from schizophrenia.
The research team investigated nearly 100 participants and divided them into four groups based on cannabis use and mental health. In turn, there were 44 healthy control, 10 non-schizophrenic participants with chronic cannabis use, 15 schizophrenia patients with chronic cannabis use, and 28 schizophrenia patients whom did not smoke cannabis.
Explaining further, each participant in the cannabis groups started smoking between the ages of 16 and 17. They did not abuse any other drugs, and are said to have been “marijuana free” for the past two years.
Despite the two-year break from cannabis, the Northwestern Medicine study reported findings that indicate abnormal structuring of three brain structures: the striatum, globus pallidus, and thalamus. Studies have suggested a link between these structures and working memory in the past; the research team from Northwestern believes they have found another piece to the puzzle.