Cannabis memory effects examined
Published: 2nd Mar 2012 09:46:19
Scientists believe they are closer to understanding how taking cannabis disrupts short-term memory.
The Canadian team from Ottawa University narrowed the effect down to a particular type of brain cell called an astrocyte.
Writing in the journal Cell, they said it might be possible to block it in medicines based on cannabis.
A UK researcher said it could reveal more about natural brain chemicals.
Cannabis floods the brain with a host of chemicals which mimic one of its own subtle signalling systems, leading to pronounced changes in mood and memory.
Scientists are trying to harness the power of these chemicals, called cannabinoids, in pharmaceuticals aimed at conditions such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.
The doses of cannabinoid are carefully controlled to avoid the "high" feeling.
The work by the Ottawa University researchers may shed light on how one of the best known cannabinoids, THC, acts on the brain.
Their work suggests that, when it comes to affecting memory, THC is acting not, as might be expected, on the brain's neurons, but on a brain cell called an astrocyte.
We may find a way to deal with working memory problems in Alzheimer's.”
They bred mice whose astrocytes could not be affected by THC, and found that their spatial memory was unaffected by the dose.
This discovery could help drug companies reduce the risk of unwanted side effects when using THC in their products, they suggested.
However, possibly more importantly, it could shed light on the brain's own chemical pathways, the "endocannabinoid" system.
Dr Xia Zhang, one of the researchers, said: "Just about any physiological function you can think of in the body, it's likely at some point endocannabinoids are involved."
Understanding how this system works could lead to ways to make it work better, he suggested.
"We may find a way to deal with working memory problems in Alzheimer's," he said.
Prof Heather Ashton, from the University of Newcastle, said that memory problems were an established feature of cannabis use, and understanding the mechanism behind them was "interesting".
She said: "When someone is taking cannabis, in some cases you find that they cannot even remember starting a sentence by the time they reach the end."
But she agreed that the practical benefits of such research might ultimately lie in a better understanding of the body's own endocannabinoid system, rather than the effects of cannabis itself.
At 15:54:16 in SportScotland came close to a major rugby sevens upset at a packed Ibrox Stadium as they lost 17-14 to New Zealand.
At 15:49:36 in WorldSearch teams have located the second flight data recorder from an Air Algerie plane that crashed in Mali.
At 15:46:47 in WalesA 15-year-old boy suffered serious head injuries after being attacked in Aberdare on Friday night.
At 15:42:49 in EnglandThree disused cooling towers at Didcot A Power Station are set for demolition in the early hours of Sunday.
At 15:35:03 in SportMadeline Perry's hopes of a Commonwealth Games medal ended when she was beaten in straight sets by world number four Joelle King on Saturday.
At 15:28:29 in EnglandA music festival expecting thousands of visitors has been pulled hours before it was due to begin over safety fears.
At 15:23:38 in HeadlinesRussia says new EU sanctions against it over the Ukraine crisis will jeopardise security co-operation against terror.
At 15:09:58 in EnglandA 10-year-old boy has launched an online petition to try and get his library's opening hours extended after they were slashed by the council.
At 15:09:38 in WalesPlans to merge two secondary schools in Torfaen to reduce the number of surplus spaces have been approved.
At 15:09:19 in EnglandA man out walking his dog is critically ill in hospital after being attacked in Greater Manchester.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Cannabis memory effects examined [Online] (Updated 2nd Mar 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1415453/Cannabis-memory-effects-examined [Accessed 26th Jul 2014]
News In Other Categories
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
A group of local councils in England is formally asking the government for new powers to tax large supermarkets.
Search teams have located the second flight data recorder from an Air Algerie plane that crashed in Mali.
Three disused cooling towers at Didcot A Power Station are set for demolition in the early hours of Sunday.
A British team of researchers has developed what might be a simple blood test that can detect all cancers.
It's exactly half a century since the premiere of Fiddler on the Roof - among the most successful stage musicals written to date. In 1964 Sheldon Harnick and his colleagues worried that the setting, a small Jewish township in eastern Europe in the early 1900s, might limit the show's appeal. But, says Harnick, the show's real subject is a universal one - family.