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A Systematic Review of Human Neuroimaging Evidence of Memory-Related Functional Alterations Associated with Cannabis Use Complemented with Preclinical and Human Evidence of Memory Performance Alterations

  • blest-hopley, grace
  • giampietro, vincent
  • bhattacharyya, sagnik
Publication Date
Feb 13, 2020
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Cannabis has been associated with deficits in memory performance. However, the neural correlates that may underpin impairments remain unclear. We carried out a systematic review of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies investigating brain functional alterations in cannabis users (CU) compared to nonusing controls while performing memory tasks, complemented with focused narrative reviews of relevant preclinical and human studies. Twelve studies employing fMRI were identified finding functional brain activation during memory tasks altered in CU. Memory performance studies showed CU performed worse particularly during verbal memory tasks. Longitudinal studies suggest that cannabis use may have a causal role in memory deficits. Preclinical studies have not provided conclusive evidence of memory deficits following cannabinoid exposure, although they have shown evidence of cannabinoid-induced structural and histological alteration. Memory performance deficits may be related to cannabis use, with lower performance possibly underpinned by altered functional activation. Memory impairments may be associated with the level of cannabis exposure and use of cannabis during developmentally sensitive periods, with possible improvement following cessation of cannabis use.

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