During the study, which was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers challenged participants to reflect on decisions before choosing a course of action. They also examined things like critical thinking skills, impulsivity and planning ability.
“If a person’s tendency to be impulsive increases, they tend to make snap decisions and the error rate increases,” said lead researcher Janelle van Wel.
Although the drugs did have some differing effects (marijuana users were less impulsive but made more errors; cocaine users reacted quicker but had more trouble with impulse control) the results indicate that long-term users of both cocaine and marijuana were more impulsive while under the influence.
According to a brief detailing the study: “These results indicate that cannabis could decrease the amount of control the frontal cortex exerts over behavior, while cocaine could increase impulsive responding from the limbic system.”
“This increased impulsivity after drug use could increase the likelihood of developing addiction,” Van Wel said. “These findings contrast with previous reports that had claimed that these effects after cannabis administration only occurred in occasional users and not in heavy users.”
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