Saint Michael’s College psychology professor Ari Kirschenbaum has developed a free mobile app that measures the effects of cannabis on a person’s cognitive functions. 

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Kirschenbaum, along with partners Chris Lewis and Andy Kaplan, both of whom are involved in public health, created Indicator, which involves a series of “neurogames” to measure impairment.

“But we are really hoping that we can show people the specific ways in which cannabis might be affecting some motor function or cognitive function, things like attention and concentration and that kind of thing,” Kirshenbaum said.

“And I think maybe we can provide some information to folks about the risks that are involved,” Kirshenbaum said. “Again also the benefits too — cannabis is undeniably helpful medicine for a lot of people.” 

One motive behind this work was to make roads safer.

“All though our app doesn’t tell somebody explicitly you are okay to drive or you are not okay to drive, what we are hoping to do is really quantify what it means to be high,” Kirshenbaum said. 

At the end of the process, the app provides immediate feedback. “Things like your focus, things like your impulse control or impulsivity, and all of that is going to be relative to your recent performance for instance when you weren’t stoned and you use the app,” Kirshenbaum said.  

“One piece of information that I would like to share, is cannabis without a doubt is dependence producing, there is a withdrawal syndrome associated with quitting cannabis, but most people don’t know that,” Kirshenbaum said.