Researchers from Washington State University (WSU) have been given an intriguing question to answer: How much does cannabis affect the brain?

With funding from WSU’s Staff Mentoring and Professional Development Pilot Program, assistant kinesiology professor Shikha Prashad and her team will try and find the impact of cannabis use on our brains.

Specifically, they hope to learn more about the level of resting state activity in cannabis users. This state, Prashad explains, represents brain activity when a person is awake, but not “actively engaged in a task.”

The study will build on previous research showing that cannabis users have increased cortical activity compared to non-users during a resting state. Specifically, the team will investigate how brain activity is influenced by heavy cannabis use and if chronic weed users have any changes in cognition, WSU Insider reports.

“Determining the mechanisms that underlie cognitive impairment as a result of cannabis use will advance the understanding of how cannabis influences brain networks,” Prashad says. “Our goal is to understand how chronic heavy cannabis use impacts resting state brain activity, whether this modified activity underlies changes in cognitive function, and if electrophysiological signals may serve as objective makers of cognitive function and cannabis use,” she adds.

“Our goal is to understand how chronic heavy cannabis use impacts resting state brain activity.” / Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus

iStock / Getty Images Plus

Researchers at Dalhousie University and Western University are also looking to get some answers about cannabis use and brain function.

As previously reported, Dr. Phil Tibbo, a psychiatry professor at Dalhousie, is studying the impact regular cannabis use has on white matter — the nerves connecting different parts of the brain — during its final development phase, which occurs in young adulthood.


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