GUELPH - A new study by University of Guelph researchers shows that vaping cannabis can cause prolonged changes in brain activity.

Researchers looked specifically at vaping THC, a compound found in marijuana.

The study suggests that brain activity in rats exposed to the vapourized compound once is similar to those with schizophrenia and cannabis-induced psychosis.

“It reduces the brains communications between regions and within the regions itself,” explained lead author Jibran Khokhar, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of Guelph.

The dampened brain activity in the rodents lasted at least a week after exposure to THC, according to researchers.

Rats used in the study had never been exposed to THC and had no risk factors for the illness

“This was in fact exactly the same as what was observed in those studies in humans where they have intravenous THC,” said Khokhar,

However, researchers say that the study does have its limitations.

“What we need to look at in future studies is potentially repeating the study in adolescent animals as well as we have to consider using both males and females,” said Melissa Perreault, molecular and cellular biology professor at the University of Guelph.

Smoking and vaping are similar in how quickly THC gets to the brain, compared to edibles which takes longer, says researchers.

“They would have different effects. We're planning on studying that in animal models as well,” said Khokhar.

They urge vapers to exercise caution, especially younger users.

“Not knowing a whole lot about what's going on should raise some caution flags about continued use,” warned Perreault.

The researchers say they're also looking to see what would happen to an individual with risk factors of schizophrenia