Determining the effects of cannabis consumption on sensory, motor, and cognitive function.

Primary Supervisor, Brian Dalton

Supervisory team:  Chris McNeil  and Phil Ainslie

Investigating how different concentrations of THC and CBD affect sensory, motor, and cognitive function over the adult lifespan in males and females

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Passage of the Cannabis Act in October 2018 provides Canadians lawful access to cannabis for medicinal purposes, without the previously required medical documentation. With increased access and promotion of cannabinoids to treat a variety of conditions (e.g., as an alternative to opioids for pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory drug, as a treatment for anxiety, etc.) but only limited or unclear scientific evidence, there is a pressing need to evaluate the acute effects of cannabis use. All human movement involves the integration of sensory, motor, and cognitive information, so insight into the effects of cannabis on these fundamental processes is indeed critical to ensure safe and effective usage.

The rate of cannabis use is increasing in older adults quicker than any other age group; however, if cannabis were to impair the neural control of movement and balance, the increased risk of falling may outweigh the benefits of cannabis use as falls lead to catastrophic outcomes for older adults. There are two primary compounds in cannabis, THC and CBD, and, while considerable research is still required, the compounds likely cause different physiological effects and impairments to overall human function. The overall aim of the proposed research is to investigate how different concentrations of THC and CBD affect sensory, motor, and cognitive function over the adult lifespan in males and females. The research initiative will involve an integrative neurophysiological approach focusing on identifying factors within the brain, spinal cord and muscle that may be influenced by cannabis use and ultimately impacting movement and balance control.