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    thc cbd social cognition

    The Effects of CBD and THC in Social Cognition


    The Effects of Cannabidiol and d-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Social Cognition: A Naturalistic Controlled Study

    Alberto Sainz-Cort, Daniel Jiménez-Garrido, Elena Muñoz-Marrón, Raquel Viejo-Sobera, Joost Heeroma, and José Carlos Bouso.

    Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research



    About the study

    The aim of this study was to determine the effect of THC and CBD in social cognition abilities, checking how CBD can counteract the potential effects of THC on these abilities. The hypothesis established that participants under the effects of THC would show lower social cognition abilities, and THC-CBD co-administration would counteract these effects.

    The authors designed a contextual, naturalistic, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, and crossover study to test the acute neuropsychological effects of the vaporization of different types of cannabis extracts.

    This study showed, for the first time, how CBD can improve Theory of Mind in chronic cannabis users and it adds up to the evidence about the opposite effects of THC and CBD on social cognition.



    Background: Social cognition abilities such as empathy and the Theory of Mind (ToM) have been shown to be impaired in neuropsychiatric conditions such as psychotic, autistic, and bipolar disorders. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) seems to play a role in social behavior and emotional processing while it also seems to play a role in those neuropsychiatric conditions showing social cognition impairments. Main plant cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) modulate the ECS and, due to their opposite effects, have been proposed as both cause and treatment for neuropsychiatric-related disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this study was to test the effects of THC and CBD on social cognition abilities in chronic cannabis users.

    Method: Eighteen members from a cannabis social club were tested for social cognition effects under the effects of different full spectrum cannabis extracts containing either THC, CBD, THC + CBD, or placebo in a naturalistic randomized double-blind crossover placebo-controlled study.

    Results: Results showed that participants under the effects of THC showed lower cognitive empathy when compared with the effects of CBD but not when those were compared with THC + CBD or placebo. Also, participantsshowed higher cognitive ToM under the effects of CBD when compared with the effects of placebo, but not when those were compared with THC or THC + CBD. However, we did not find differences on the emotional scales for empathy or ToM.

    Conclusions: This study provides evidence for the interaction between the effects of THC and CBD and social cognition abilities in a naturalistic environment, which can be of special interest for the clinical practice of medical cannabis on neuropsychiatric disorders. We show for the first time that CBD can improve ToM abilities in chronic cannabis users. Our results might help to understand the role of the ECS in social cognition, and their association with psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia or autism. Finally, we demonstrate how reliable methodologies can be implemented in naturalistic environments to collect valid ecological evidence outside classic laboratory settings.


    Link to the study


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    Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash.



    Categories: Cannabis , Studies & papers
    Tags: scientific research , study , CBD , THC , empathy , cannabis