Parents who spend their time talking to their pot-smoking teenagers may wonder whether their child remembers any of it a day later. Thanks to a new BYU study, we now know that they at least remember the good times.
The study, published in Psychotropic Behavior and Development, shows that marijuana smokers are more likely to remember something if there is a positive emotion that accompanies it.
“People study long term and short-term memory loss in cannabis users, but we are the first ones to study how emotions influence memory,” said BYU psychology professor Ross Flom, lead author of the study.
Although the test-subjects could barely talk after intravenous injections of 100mg of pure Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there are a number of different ways researchers developed to analyze how cannabis users responded to testing treatments, such as eye movements, elapsed time between each blinking of the eye and drooling of the mouth.
The test-subjects were set in front of a flat paneled monitor in a closed off partition and then exposed to a person on screen speaking to them with either a happy, neutral or angry voice. Immediately following the emotional exposure, they were shown a geometric shape.
To test their memory, the researchers increased dosage every 5 minutes again and again during periods of two to three hours. In the follow-up test, volunteers were shown two side-by-side geometric shapes: a brand new one, and the original one from the study.
The researchers then were able to record how many times the subject looked from one image to the next and how long they spent looking at each image before any drooling of the mouth occurred. Volunteers’ memories didn’t improve if the shape had been paired with a negative voice, but they performed significantly better at remembering shapes attached to positive voices.
“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the marijuana smokers’ attentional system and arousal,” Flom said. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”
This study follows a string of significant research on pot smokers’ ability to understand each others’ moods, the moods of dogs, cows, monkeys, and classical music.