How Marijuana Impairs Short-Term Memory

UnrolledJointMo Costandi writes in the Guardian:

My latest news story for Nature describes a new study which explains how marijuana causes impairments in working memory, or the ability to retain information for short periods of time. This is a well known side effect of marijuana, which is unwanted with respect to medicinal use of the drug, but until now the underlying neurobiology was unknown.

The research shows that tetrahydrocanabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) impairs working memory by inducing a form of synaptic plasticity that weakens neuronal connections. This could lead to new THC-related drugs that have therapeutic value but do not cause this unwanted effect. More interestingly, though, the findings provide compelling evidence that hitherto neglected brain cells called astrocytes are critical for brain function and play a direct role in cognitive processes.

There are two different types of synapitc plasticity. One of these, called long-term potentiation, strengthens the connections between neurons so that neurotransmission – the process by which signals pass from one nerve cell to another – is more effective. Long-term potentiation is widely believed to underly learning and memory…

Read More: Guardian

15 Comments on "How Marijuana Impairs Short-Term Memory"

  1. Researching this now, brb

  2. I have a splitting headache and I can’t remember anything that happened last night … I think we all know I wasn’t smoking marijuana.


  3. its still no where near as bad as most of the prescribed meds out there,
    for example, isnt crystal meth approved by the fda to give to adhd kids in america, altho it comes under a diff name im sure its still cystal meth, yet ganja is the one everyone should worry about hmmm, besides how can it be called a drug, drugs are made by ppl in white coats and labs

    • Redacted | Mar 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm |

      Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD, but its not quite Crystal Meth. Close enough that we shouldn’t be giving it to kids.

    • SomeCollegeKid | Mar 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |

      Actually, Methamphetamine is prescribed to people with ADD not ADHD. It is prescribed under the brand name Desoxyn.It isn’t crystal meth , It is a much safer un-cut dose given in a pill form. My reason for “ganja” being labeled as a drug is because when ingested, It causes an alternative state of mind caused by the chemical THC in the plant.

      ** Please someone correct me if I am mistaken.

  4. DeepCough | Mar 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm |

    You know what else affects your short-term memory–TV!

  5. UselessJunk | Mar 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

    So… only use it at a time when short-term memory is not a critical necessity.  Problem solved.

  6. Eric_D_Read | Mar 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm |

    Joe Rogan had it right. If getting stoned causes you to forget something, it wasn’t that important to begin with. 

  7. The thing about pot is that it’s……? Oops I forgot what I was going to write!

  8. Sheeeeeeeeiitttttt

  9. Scrool Roller | Mar 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm |

    Forget the past, live in the now. Karma be gone.

  10. MoralDrift | Mar 6, 2012 at 3:57 am |

    Legalize it. Nothing else to say

  11. The experience of life is mostly drudgery and forgettable anyway, who cares? I’d rather feel good on this shit heap. Moderate use has few if any drawbacks.

  12. 420enlightenment | Mar 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    I find this interesting because the mechanism described is the same mechanism that likely allows MJ to be a catalyst for creativity. Both “Aha!” moments and sustained creative flows (music, art, et. al.) often seem to come more freely when normal thought processes are suspended. Let’s not tamper with this glorious plant.

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