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Research & Development Pain, Medical research, Neurology & psychology

New Hope for HIV?

It is well reported that people with HIV (PWH) use cannabis at a higher rate than the general population, but relatively little is known about its influence on neural activity in PWH. Researchers set out to quantify the impact of chronic cannabis use on brain and cognitive function through magnetoencephalographic brain imaging data. The study saw 81 participants, split across four demographically matched groups (i.e., PWH using cannabis, controls using cannabis, non-using PWH, and non-using controls), complete a visuospatial processing task. They found PWH exhibited significant behavioral deficits in visuospatial processing, as well as reduced theta oscillations and elevated pre-stimulus gamma activity in visual cortices.

Strikingly, chronic cannabis use was associated with a significant reduction in pre-stimulus gamma activity in the visual cortices – so much so that PWH no longer statistically differed from controls, providing evidence that cannabis use may normalize some neural aberrations in PWH.

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  1. N Christopher-Hayes et al., Hum Brain Mapp (2021). Online ahead of print. Available at:
About the Author
Phoebe Harkin

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