The classic trope of the bumbling, forgetful stoner may be what your grandparents think of when they imagine cannabis use, but a new study from Germany suggests that the right amount of weed might actually help the elderly improve their memory instead of diminish it - at least that’s what happened to the mice experimented on.
A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine looked at the cognitive function of mice in a control group compared to mice who were administered a daily microdose of THC and found that the active compound in cannabis actually helped the brain make connections in the hippocampus, the region tied to memory formation.
“We repeated these experiments many times,” Andreas Zimmer, who led the team of researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany, told New Scientist. “It’s a very robust and profound effect.”
The researchers looked at three different age groups of mice, 2 month-olds, 12 month-olds, and 18 month-olds. In mice-terms that represents adolescents, the middle aged, and the elderly. In the youngest age cohort, the microdosing mice were outperformed by their sober peers, but in the older two age ranges, the THC dosed rodents were able to navigate mazes and recognize each other at a better rate than the control group of the same age.
When researchers pitted the different aged mice against each other in the same memory competitions, the group of mice without THC in their system performed as you might expect, with the younger mice winning every time. In the microdosing group though, the two older age groups competed at the exact same level as the young mice.
There’s no exact science that can convert mice months into human years, but Zimmer and his team plan on taking the same study to human trials to see if the microdosing data carries over in other mammals. The dose THC dose given to the mice is about the adult equivalent of 3mg per day.
So while your grandparents’ ideas about the forgetful stoner may ring true for teenagers, cannabis might actually have the exact opposite effect on them. So next time you’re at your local pot shop and see that tin of low-dose mints, grab some for grannie, it might just help her remember you a little longer.