For years using marijuana as a painkiller has been frowned upon, mostly due to its short term memory loss characteristics. However a recent research could change all that. Scientists have figured out how marijuana causes memory loss. According to the recent study marijuana hinders a signalling mechanism between neurons and non-neuronal cells in the brain called astrocytes. Previously, astrocytes had been considered nothing more than support cells that protect neurons.
In the United States, various states prescribe medicinal marijuana though there is a raging debate about it. Regularly smoking marijuana over a number of years can affect your short-term memory, researchers have found. This is because long term smokers are wont to forget basic information like a telephone number, an address or the name of a friend.
The researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, weakens the connections between neurons in the hippocampus, a structure that is crucial for memory formation, reports Nature. The team came to this conclusion after injecting mice with THC and giving them a series of memory tests, such as forcing them to remember the location of an underwater platform in order to emerge from a miniature swimming pool. This could help scientists figure out how the drug causes memory loss without affecting short term memory. Mice lacking CB1s on astrocytes did much better on the memory tests than mice lacking the receptors on their neurons, which suggest that marijuana impaired working memory only when it was able to bind to astrocytes.