Study: Marijuana may affect neuron firing

November 29, 2006

U.S. scientists have discovered the active ingredient in marijuana interferes with synchronized activity between neurons in the hippocampus of rats.

The authors suggest action of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, might explain why marijuana impairs memory.

Gyorgy Buzsaki and colleagues at Rutgers University recorded the activity of multiple neurons in the hippocampus of rats. Normally neurons in that region form groups that fire action potentials, or nerve impulses, together at about 4-10 times per second. But when the authors injected THC, or a related synthetic drug, into the hippocampus, that synchrony was disrupted.

The researchers said the drugs did not change the total number of action potentials produced, just their tendency to occur at the same time. Animals with less synchronized neural activity under the drug performed less well in a standard test of memory, suggesting synchronized neural firing is important for normal hippocampal function.

The study appears in the December issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: How your brain is wired to just say 'yes' to opioids

Related Stories

How your brain is wired to just say 'yes' to opioids

February 27, 2018
The mid-1980s was the era of cocaine and marijuana, when "Just Say No" was the centerpiece of the war on drugs and the government's efforts to stem drug use and addiction. Since then, prescription opioids have become the ...

How marijuana impairs memory

March 1, 2012
A major downside of the medical use of marijuana is the drug's ill effects on working memory, the ability to transiently hold and process information for reasoning, comprehension and learning. Researchers reporting in the ...

Mulling the marijuana munchies: How the brain flips the hunger switch

February 18, 2015
The "munchies," or that uncontrollable urge to eat after using marijuana, appear to be driven by neurons in the brain that are normally involved in suppressing appetite, according to a new study by Yale School of Medicine ...

Researchers report that the acute use of cannabinoids depresses motor neuron activity

February 23, 2015
Why does the habitual marijuana user have difficulties speaking, breathing or swallowing food? Is it true that people who use marijuana may suffer acute lack of motor coordination? Does the use of cannabis cause muscular ...

Blocking brain's 'internal marijuana' may trigger early Alzheimer's deficits, study shows

June 18, 2014
A new study led by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine has implicated the blocking of endocannabinoids—signaling substances that are the brain's internal versions of the psychoactive chemicals in ...

Mimicking the brain, in silicon: New computer chip models how neurons communicate

November 15, 2011
For decades, scientists have dreamed of building computer systems that could replicate the human brain’s talent for learning new tasks.

Recommended for you

Democratizing science: Researchers make neuroscience experiments easier to share, reproduce

March 16, 2018
Over the past few years, scientists have faced a problem: They often cannot reproduce the results of experiments done by themselves or their peers.

Human 'chimeric' cells restore crucial protein in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

March 16, 2018
Cells made by fusing a normal human muscle cell with a muscle cell from a person with Duchenne muscular dystrophy —a rare but fatal form of muscular dystrophy—were able to significantly improve muscle function when implanted ...

Team develops 3-D tissue model of a developing human heart

March 16, 2018
The heart is the first organ to develop in the womb and the first cause of concern for many parents.

Genetic variant discovery to help asthma sufferers

March 16, 2018
Research from the University of Liverpool, published today in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, identifies a genetic variant that could improve the safety and effectiveness of corticosteroids, drugs that are used to treat a range ...

Researchers say use of artificial intelligence in medicine raises ethical questions

March 15, 2018
In a perspective piece, Stanford researchers discuss the ethical implications of using machine-learning tools in making health care decisions for patients.

Study identifies potential drug for treatment of debilitating inherited neurological disease

March 15, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have demonstrated in mouse studies that the neurological disease spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) can be successfully treated with drugs. The finding paves the way for ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.