Marijuana’s effect on memory functions

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Scientists have discovered that marijuana leads to decay of short-term memory. The drug affects user’s working memory, i.e. the ability to preserve and use information for short periods of time.

A research of two neuroscientists, Giovanni Marsicano from the University of Bordeaux in France and Xia Zhang from the University of Ottawa in Canada, showed that this consequential effect occurs due to a hitherto unknown mechanism of signalling between neurons and astrocytes, brain cells which as a result of the current research were proved to be responsible for memory functions.

After a number of experiments on mice, the researchers discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance present in marijuana, damages relations between neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain vital to memory formation.

The experiments were conducted using mice with genetically modified changes in the work of receptor units causing a reaction to marijuana – the so-called CB1 receptors (cannabinoid receptor type 1). The functioning of these receptors depends on the type of cell they are located on. So, the results of the experiments, in which the mice were submitted to a number of memory tests, showed that the effect of THC on the brain is associated with CB1 receptors in astrocytes, which means that the principal ingredient of marijuana degrades memory functions.

The researchers noted that the new findings could someday lead to the development of drugs with the same therapeutic characteristics but with fewer side effects.

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Anna LeMind

Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.

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By | 2017-01-13T21:56:23+00:00 March 28th, 2012|Categories: Human Brain, Psychology & Mental Health, Uncommon Science|Tags: , , , |2 Comments


  1. chris December 5, 2013 at 12:21 am - Reply

    links? specifics? actual methods of experiment? is it long-term decay, or do they test these mice high? also, genetically modified mice???

  2. blabla May 20, 2014 at 4:32 am - Reply

    “The researchers noted that the new findings could someday lead to the development of drugs with the same therapeutic characteristics but with fewer side effects.” so big pharma can get involved then?

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Marijuana's effect on memory functions