The American Journal of Epidemiology this week suggesting marijuana may improve cognitive functioning in middle aged males. Marijuana actually appeared to improve “cognitive functioning” among the middle-aged men it examined.
The research was not small, actually researchers looked at a astounding 8,992 men who used drugs, mainly marijuana, at age 42, and then again at age 50. They were given tests to determine their level of brain functioning. What researchers found was that when given tests to determine cognitive functioning, the drug users fared a bit better than most. The study on all those participants found a positive association with past and or current illicit drug use on cognitive functioning. Britons at age 50 and found that those who had used illegal drugs as recently as in their 40s did just as well, or slightly better, on the tests than peers who had never used drugs.
Marijuana was by far the most common indulgence for the participants, who were surveyed at age 42 about current or past drug use, then tested at age 50, with six percent saying they had used it in the past year, while one-quarter said they had ever used it.
They were asked if they had used any of 12 illegal drugs. Other drugs reported included LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine and ecstasy. They study participants were questioned at 42 on their pattern of drug use and then tested for memory and mental function at age 50. Six percent of those tested at age 50 said they had used marijuana in the past year, while one-quarter reported they had used it in the past. About three to eight percent of the subjects said they had used other drugs such as LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms and cocaine in the past.
According to John Halpern, psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts: “In a Western population of occasional drug users, this is what you’d expect to see. In some ways, this is not surprising. The brain is resilient.”
The study warns that heavy, long-term drug use could still be bad for your smarts and memory. Past studies have found that marijuana and cocaine can cloud thinking, affect memory and attention span, but the current finding add support that those effects may only be temporary.
The researchers stressed that the result of the study should not be taken as endorsement of drug use. They said that there is evidence that prolonged and heavy use of illicit drugs harm mental function.