Dr. Francis Filbey, the head researcher for the study and the director of Cognitive Neuroscience Research in Addictive Disorders at the Center for BrainHealth, explained:
“Past marijuana research has shown changes in cognitive functions such as memory and executive functioning. Our study seeks to understand the possible neurophysiological mechanisms that may drive these cognitive changes.”
For the study, researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas studied 175 volunteers for 60 days. Of the 175 participants, 101 were drug-free, and 74 were considered perpetual “drug users” that got high on marijuana no less than “5,000 times” throughout their life.
THC Lowered Blood Pressure
Conducted by Dr. Francis Filbey, the Texas-based study discovered “The primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), relaxes arterial walls resulting in lower blood pressure and increased blood flow to tissues. In the brain, THC binds to ubiquitous cannabinoid receptors (CB1) that are present in arterial tissue and regulate the microvascular environment via dose-dependent dilation of cerebral arterioles.”
Analyzed and scrutinized during the study, researchers performed MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) on the participants, in addition to monitoring their THC metabolite levels.
Dr. Filbey and her astute team of researchers discovered that individuals who consume cannabis on a regular basis had significantly better levels of global oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) levels, particularly in comparison to non-users.
Linked to increased learning, the study also discovered “the cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the putamen — a round structure located at the base of the forebrain,” — was significantly higher in marijuana users than non-users.