Cannabis causes the same type of chaotic brain activity seen in people with schizophrenia, British scientists found.
Researchers from Bristol University, in western England, made the discovery after measuring the brain neurons of rats that were given the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.
They found that the drug completely disrupted coordinated brain waves, which are essential for memory and decision-making, in the area across the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
The resulting brain activity was uncoordinated and inaccurate, leading to neurophysiological and behavioral impairments similar to those seen in schizophrenia.
The rats exposed to the cannabis-like drug were left unable to make accurate decisions when navigating a maze, according to findings published Tuesday in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Dr. Matt Jones, who led the study, said, "Marijuana abuse is common among sufferers of schizophrenia, and recent studies have shown that the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana can induce some symptoms of schizophrenia in healthy volunteers."
He added that the effects of the drug on the brain were similar to parts of an orchestra playing out of synch and that the findings advanced our understanding of psychiatric diseases, which could be treated by "re-tuning brain activity."