Scientists have uncovered more details about the neurochemical pathway which leads to marijuana’s effects on short-term memory. The scientists made a breakthrough in the neurochemistry of marijuana and also designed a compound that is capable of blocking THC’s effects on memory in mice. The study was published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS).
The neuroscientists found links between certain serotonin receptors and the cannabinoid system. The receptors share a region in the brain and also activation of the 5HT2A receptor which causes a release of endocannabinoids, the body’s natural “darts” for the cannabinoid receptor’s “dartboard” (in a similar way that your body produces serotonin to act as a signal carrier in your serotonin system).
Researchers in Barcelona looked deeper into the serotonin receptor and cannabinoid receptor connection and found that the two receptors are actually connected to each other. The two receptors associate with each other to form what’s called a heteromer.
Through experimentation on mice the researchers found that THC’s effect on short-term memory is not caused by the cannabinoid receptors, but pain relief and other medical benefits from THC do stem from the cannabinoid receptor. Meanwhile, the attached serotonin receptor appears to be the culprit for certain psychoactive effects.
When normal mice were given a special drug that blocked the association between the two receptors, they didn’t have short-term memory loss when given THC, but they still had the pain-relieving effects from the THC.
The results from this research will be very important for the development of new medicines spawning from marijuana.