Researchers prove that marijuana use in young adulthood lead to deterioration in verbal memory in middle age.
A recent study published in the journal JAMA International Medicine on February 1st. A team of researchers led by Professor Reto Auer of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland conducted a 25 years longitudinal study with 4,500 participants ranging from age 18 to 30 in 1985 and 1986 from cities including Alabama, Chicago, Minneapolis and California. The aim of the study was to assess the effect of marijuana use on verbal memory.
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Almost 85 percent of the participants said that they had been smoking marijuana in the past while 12 percent admitted smoking pot into middle age. The participants were then given standardized tests of verbal memory, processing speed and executive function.The testing covered verbal memory measured by the ability to memorize and recall a list of 15 words, visual motor, working memory, sustained attention skills and the ability to problem-solve and plan.
The results of the study indicated that as the use of marijuana increased, verbal memory scores on testing decreased. The middle-aged participants participating in the study who admitted to being marijuana smokers in the past performed worse on the verbal memory and mental-processing speed. The researcher concluded that for every five years of exposure to marijuana, 50 percent of marijuana users would forget one word from a list of 15 words.
Similar results were obtained for a range of factors including smoking, drinking and drug use, exercise habits, depression history, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, in associated studies.
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The researchers are still saying that the results are not very conclusive because they only researched verbal memory and no other types of memory. Furthermore, the results were obtained on association basis rather than the cause and effect factor. So more detailed studies will have to be made to prove that marijuana use is the actual reason for the verbal memory deterioration.