According to the results of a new study, the active ingredient in cannabis increases ‘neural noise’ in the brain, similar to that observed in schizophrenia.
Based on reports from previous studies that the active ingredient in cannabis, Δ9-THC, can cause a symptom similar to psychosis, such as those seen in patients with schizophrenia, a group of researchers conducted a study to further investigate this phenomenon.
The researchers investigated the amount of random neural activity, termed ‘neural noise’ following use of cannabis. Such neural noise has been shown to occur in psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. Study participants were either given the active component of cannabis, Δ 9-THC (0.015mk/kg or 0.03mg/kg), or a placebo.
The results of the study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, revealed that following treatment, the amount of neural noise increased with increasing dose of Δ9-THC. Both doses of Δ 9-THC resulted in psychosis-like effects in participants. These results are in response to doses that would be obtained from one half of, or one marijuana joint.
The researchers state that the results of the study, pointing to common symptoms between effects of cannabis and schizophrenia, bring to light important factors regarding the use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes.
Cortes-Briones JA, Cahill JD, Skosnik PD, Mathalon DH, Williams A, Sewell RA, Roach BJ, Ford JM, Ranganathan M, D’Souza DC. “The Psychosis-like Effects of Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol Are Associated With Increased Cortical Noise in Healthy Humans.” Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Dec 1;78(11):805-13. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.03.023.
News Release: “Cannabis Increases the Noise in Your Brain” Available from: http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=159053&CultureCode=en Last Accessed: December 3, 2015.
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD