How cannabis enhances sensory perceptions and affects sensory filtration and body image

Cannabis has been used for millennia for its relaxing and uplifting effects. Many users report that their senses are heightened – food tastes better, music sounds richer, and sensation becomes more intense. But what actually happens in the body and brain when we use cannabis?

Study: Sensory Impact of Cannabis

Scientists have long wondered how cannabis affects our ability to filter out unnecessary information and how we know our bodies (interoception). This is important because changes in these experiences can affect how we feel when we are under the influence, how we deal with cravings for cannabis, and how we experience withdrawal.

A new study wanted to investigate how frequent cannabis users experience their surroundings and their bodies. The researchers believed that cannabis users would have a harder time filtering out unnecessary information and being more aware of their bodily sensations, especially those linked to emotions.

Method

The study involved 150 adults, 72 of whom used cannabis at least twice a week and 78 did not use cannabis. Participants filled out questionnaires about how they experience their minds and bodies.

Result

  • Sensory Filtration: Cannabis users reported that they had more difficulty filtering out unnecessary information.
  • Body image: Cannabis users were more aware of their bodily sensations, especially those that were linked to emotions.
  • Cannabis use patterns: The more problematic cannabis use was, the more difficult people had to filter out unnecessary information.

This research helps us understand how cannabis affects our senses and our perception of the body. The results show that frequent cannabis users experience their senses differently, which can be important to consider when treating cannabis-related problems.

The study was funded by various grants and programs, including the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as support from Indiana University.

The endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids

Cannabis affects a special system in our body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It was discovered in the 1990s and is involved in regulating things like mood, appetite, sleep, and how we experience the world around us. The ECS is made up of receptors in the brain and body that react to different molecules in cannabis.

These are called cannabinoids , the two most well-known of which are THC and CBD.

  1. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol): This is the main psychoactive component that makes us feel “high”. THC affects the brain by binding to receptors and can change how we perceive sound, taste, and touch.
  2. CBD (Cannabidiol): CBD doesn’t affect the mind as much as THC, but it does help balance the effects of THC and can affect our well-being.

Enhanced sensory experiences

Music

Many people find that music sounds better when they are under the influence of cannabis. THC affects how we process sound, allowing us to hear more details and enjoy the music more.

Food

Cannabis can make food taste incredibly good. THC affects the brain’s reward system and increases the release of dopamine, making us feel more pleasure from eating. In addition, THC increases the production of ghrelin, a hormone that makes us hungry.

Smell

Our sense of smell is also enhanced by cannabis. THC affects the part of the brain that processes odors, causing us to perceive smells more intensely, which in turn can make food taste even better.

Touch

Cannabis can make us feel more sensitive to touch. THC affects the brain’s sensory pathways and can make us experience touch as more pleasurable and intense.

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