Associations of Regular Marijuana Use by Adolescent Boys With Verbal Memory and Perseveration

Robert I. Block*, Gerry Jager, Maartje Luijten, Nick F. Ramsey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Many American and Dutch adolescents use marijuana regularly. There is concern that such use may impair cognitive function more in adolescents than adults. We examined effects of regular marijuana use on long-term memory and perseveration among American and Dutch adolescents. We administered Buschke's Selective Reminding Test (BSRT) to assess long-term memory and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) to assess perseveration in male teenagers. Usable test data were obtained for 12 American marijuana users, 13 American controls, 9 Dutch marijuana users, and 12 Dutch controls. In BSRT, users showed lower overall long-term storage than controls (adjusted means ± SE's for numbers of words per trial of 9.4 ± 0.2, 13.4 ± 0.3, 11.7 ± 0.2, and 12.4 ± 0.2 for American users, Dutch users, American controls, and Dutch controls, respectively). Marijuana was associated with memory effects only in American, not Dutch, users. Bivariate Pearson correlations for American and Dutch users combined showed associations of lower total recall with more uses in the previous year and lifetime (r = –0.61 and r = –0.53, respectively); and more perseverative errors with more uses in the previous year (r = 0.55). Some findings were consistent with the possibility that regular adolescent marijuana use causes deficits in cognition, especially memory. However, a causal interpretation cannot be inferred from our findings and is challenging to reconcile with the observation of memory deficits only in American users. Our study was novel in examining the influence of nationality on marijuana's cognitive effects. More studies of this topic should compare effects across nationalities or cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalPsychological Reports
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Buschke’s Selective Reminding Test
  • cognition
  • marijuana
  • memory
  • perseveration
  • Wisconsin Card Sorting Test

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