One of the most hackneyed clichés about cannabis use—“stoner” memory failure—may be about to take a big hit. Researchers at University College London have discovered that a single dose of CBD increases blood flow to the part of the brain associated with memory function.
As reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in August, researchers found that 600 mg of oral CBD increased cerebral blood flow (CBF) to key regions of the brain involved in memory processing, particularly the hippocampus.
The team used a randomized, crossover, double-blind design in which 15 healthy, young adults with little or no history of cannabis use were given either CBD or a placebo. Using an MRI technique called arterial spin labelling, which measures changes in the blood oxygen levels, researchers showed significantly increased CBF in the hippocampus. Working memory function was assessed by asking test subjects to count forwards or backwards by random amounts, and episodic memory was tested with a prose recall task.
While there were no differences in memory task performance, CBD-induced increases in hippocampus CBF were associated with reduced reaction time on some of the memory tasks related to counting backwards. The researchers conclude the finding may point to uses for CBD for a range of conditions associated with altered memory processing, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and cannabis-use disorders.
“If replicated, these results could lead to further research across a range of conditions characterized by changes in how the brain processes memories,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Bloomfield.