The lack of clarity about the effect of cannabis use on cognition may be attributable to the considerable heterogeneity among studies in terms of cannabis composition. This article selectively reviews studies examining the distinctive effects of cannabinoids on human cognition, particularly those of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Research indicates that ∆9-THC administration acutely impairs cognition, particularly memory and emotional processing. Limited evidence suggests that CBD administration might improve cognition in cannabis users but not in individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders. Moreover, studies indicate that some acute Δ9-THC-induced cognitive impairments may be prevented if Δ9-THC is administered in combination or following CBD treatment. Δ9-THC and CBD have also shown opposite effects on cognition-related brain activation, possibly reflecting their antagonistic behavioral effects.
Research suggests greater cognitive impairments in individuals when exposed to high ∆9-THC or low CBD cannabis. It is unclear whether at specific concentrations CBD might outweigh any harmful effects of Δ9-THC on cognition.
Brain function; Cannabidiol; Cannabis; Cognitive processing; Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol