People smoking weed have more false memories: Research

Hyderabad: As there is a wide-raging debate around the world on legalising cannabis, a research led by Lilian Kloft, a faculty member of psychology and neuroscience in Maastricht University, Netherlands, has found evidence that highly-intoxicated people are more likely to formulate false memories.

The researches selected 64 participants (32 male and 32 female) to check the effect of cannabis on people’s memories. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was given tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH) activated weed (highly intoxicating), while the other group was given a placebo (prescribed amount of drug for psychological benefit).

The group was put through different tests. The research states that the study was conducted to understand the legal implications and how police should interview a stoned eye-witness. Testimony of eye-witness is highly important in any legal case, but if memory performances are imperfect such false memories can have disastrous consequences on legal cases, stated the research.

In one test, the researchers used virtual reality where participants witnessed a fight at a train station. Later, they were asked questions about the incident. There were some questions about things that did not happen in the simulation, however, participants high on TCH activated cannabis created scenes in their minds making false memories. In another test, participants were asked to remember one main word and words associated with it. Cannabis-intoxicated individuals were found to answer more unrelated words compared to participants who had taken the placebo.

Kloft, in the study, concludes, “Given the described findings of cannabis-induced memory impairment, cannabis intoxication was generally expected to result in higher false-memory rates, compared to a placebo condition.”
The participants were also tested a week later to understand the delayed effects of the drugs but it was found that there was no great difference in answers of different groups, showing that memory decays over time. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter. A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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