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Cannabis use may disrupt brain’s information processing

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Washington :Cannabis use may produce psychosis-like effects and increased neural noise in humans which disrupts the brain’s normal information processing, researchers, including those of Indian-origin, have found.

Several studies have demonstrated that the primary active constituent of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), induces transient psychosis-like effects in healthy subjects similar to those observed in schizophrenia.

However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are not clear. The new study shows that delta-9-THC increases random neural activity, termed neural noise, in the brains of healthy human subjects.

The findings suggest that increased neural noise may play a role in the psychosis-like effects of cannabis.

“At doses roughly equivalent to half or a single joint, delta-9-THC produced psychosis-like effects and increased neural noise in humans,” said senior author Dr Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

“The dose-dependent and strong positive relationship between these two findings suggest that the psychosis-like effects of cannabis may be related to neural noise which disrupts the brain’s normal information processing,” said first author Dr Jose Cortes-Briones, a Postdoctoral Associate in Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

Researchers studied the effects of delta-9-THC on electrical brain activity in 24 human subjects who participated in a three-day study during which they received two doses of intravenous delta-9-THC or placebo in a double-blind, randomised, cross-over, and counterbalanced design.

If confirmed, the link between neural noise and psychosis could shed light on the biology of some of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia, said researchers, including Mohini Ranganathan, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

“This interesting study suggests a commonality between the effects on the brain of the major active ingredient in marijuana and symptoms of schizophrenia,” said Dr John Krystal, Editor of the journal Biological Psychiatry which published the research.

PTI