Harvard Medical School is conducting a study that suggests that medical marijuana may help improve brain function in adults. Dr. Staci Gruber suggests that executive brain functions – such as cognition and task management – may improve with marijuana use.
The study also suggests that chronic pain hinders cognitive function in tasks requiring executive function, according to Inc.com. Reducing pain, the study suggests, may improve concentration and cognitive performance.
Dr. Gruber said, “After three months of medical marijuana treatment, patients actually performed better, in terms of their ability to perform certain cognitive tasks, specifically those medicated by the frontal cortex.”
Study authors said, “Symptom improvement may therefore result in improved cognitive performance. Interestingly, two previous studies have noted a positive association between a history of MJ use and improved cognitive performance on measures of psychomotor speed attention, working memory, executive functioning, and verbal learning in patients with bipolar disorder compared to patients without a history of marijuana use.”
All study participants completed the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence. Participants also completed executive functioning tasks and the Wisconsin Cord Sorting Tests. After three months of using medical marijuana the tasks were completed faster and with the same amount of errors as prior to using medical marijuana.
Additionally, the study also suggests that medical marijuana may help protect against deficits of executive function that are seen in recreational marijuana users. Medical marijuana products tend to be higher in cannabinoids, like CBD, which may be more beneficial to brain function than high THC content.
The study’s authors also said, “It is in the public’s best interest to develop a robust, evidence-based understanding of both the positive and negative effects of medical marijuana use on various aspects of functioning: cognition, quality of life, physical and emotional health.”
Studies conducted previously suggested that anxiety is an interference in terms of attention and executive function. Marijuana can relieve anxiety for some people.