Marijuana affects working memory (short term memory), reducing the ability to retain and process information temporarily to reason, understand and learn. According to a study just published by the prestigious journal Cell, the key is that the psychoactive ingredient main of this drug (the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) does not affect neurons but astrocytes, the glial cells that support them and they serve them as “scaffolding”. That means that astrocytes in addition to nourish and protect neurons, play an active role in the formation of memories.
In experiments with mice the researchers showed that if the astrocytes lack a type of receptor called CB1Rs not suffer alterations memory after taking a high dose of marijuana. However, if this receptor is removed from the neurons drug effect remains the same. It is the first time it is shown that the effects of cannabis on short – term memory not directly regulated by nerve cells.
Now, researchers aim to explore the activities of endogenous endocannabinoids, i.e., substances similar to cannabis produced by the body itself of natural form. The endocannabinoid system is involved in appetite, pain, mood, the memory, etc. “In almost any physiological function you can imagine, it is likely that endocannabinoids are involved in some way,” say the scientists.