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Smoking a Joint Won't Make You More Creative: Study

Oct 13, 2014 06:30 PM EDT

A great number of recreational cannabis proponents believe that lighting up can "open the mind" and even boost creativity. However, a new study has found evidence that shows just the opposite may occur.

That's at least according to the researchers behind a new study published in the journal Psychoparmacology.

"The improved creativity that they believe they experience is an illusion," researcher Lorenza Colzato, who authored the study, said in a recent release.

"If you want to overcome writer's block or any other creative gap, lighting up a joint isn't the best solution," he added. "Smoking several joints one after the other can even be counterproductive to creative thinking."

Colzato and his colleague Mikael Kowal at Leiden University recently determined this after assessing 59 healthy participants who regularly use cannabis for recreational means.

These study participants were divided into three groups of 18 and were given either high concentration Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the recreational ingredient in cannabis - low concentration THC (about the equivalent of one joint), or a placebo via vaporizer.

All the participants were then required to complete a series of cognitive tasks that were designed to measure two forms of thinking.

Tasks like, "think of as many uses as you can for a pen," were assigned to measure what is called divergent thinking (varied/creative); while determining the correct answer to a question such as "what is the link between the words 'time', 'hair' and 'stretching'?" (answer: long) was used to measure convergent (standardized) thinking.

Interestingly, the participants fared significantly worse in their divergent thinking tasks with the more THC they were given. Likewise, those participants that were given a single joint's worth of THC proved no better at creative tasks than the sober placebo group.

The researchers are quick to point out that the study is certainly too small to say with certainty that THC can inhabit creative thinking, nor can it explain how. However, there was also a clear lack of creativity improvement among the high participants, implying that the "open mind" of cannabis use is just an illusion.

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