CB1 & Mammalian Memory

How do cannabinoids affect memory and learning? It seems like a simple question, but scientists study its answer in complex ways. The kind of memory in question, the species tested, the animals’ age and sex, and so on, all affect the answer. So, scientists at Kings College in London compiled 195 articles on cannabinoids and memory for review. ⁠

CB1 and learning

If THC makes people forgetful while they’re high, one might reasonably expect that blocking the CB1 receptor that mediates the high will promote focus and the ability to learn. But is this true? There are several issues to consider when systemically blocking the CB1 receptor, such as the increased rates of suicidal thoughts. This is, without a doubt, an unacceptable side effect. However, it’s still useful for scientists to tease apart the roles of cannabinoids in learning.

Injecting Uncertainty into Science

A rat smoking weed

Preclinical studies are supposed to provide precise, controllable, and translational models for human diseases. But the manipulations that researchers use — like injecting a precise dose of THC into a rat — may sometimes miss important points. What if smoking and injection have different effects? How might this bias results? University of Florida researchers asked just that question, studying the effects of injected vs. smoked THC in rats. Injecting low doses of THC impaired memory.

Low Dose THC Can Improve Cognition

Improved brain function

THC and other cannabinoids are known to induce neurogenesis — the creation of new neurons — in the brain. There are reasons to believe that this can positively influence diseases like dementia or traumatic brain injury, as well as the ability to learn. Malaysian researchers recently probed the question, does THC improve cognition by inducing neurogenesis? Yes, but only at the right dose.

Coffee & Cannabis

Coffee and cannabis are two of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world. Whereas cannabis is often consumed to relax the body, enhance perception, and stimulate creativity, coffee – like tea and other caffeinated beverages – is typically used to energize and help people focus, particularly in the face of exhaustion.