-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana causes
disruptions in concentration and memory similar to those that occur
in people with schizophrenia, according to a new study.
U.K. researchers measured the electrical activity from hundreds
of neurons in the brains of rats given a drug that mimics the
effects of cannabis, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.
The effects of the drug on individual brain regions were subtle
but the drug completely disrupted the coordinated brain waves
across the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Both of these brain
structures are essential for memory and decision-making and play a
key role in schizophrenia.
Due to the "decoupling" of the hippocampus and prefrontal
cortex, the rats were unable to make accurate decisions while
attempting to find their way through a maze, the University of
Bristol researchers said.
"Marijuana abuse is common among sufferers of schizophrenia and recent studies have shown that the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana can induce some symptoms of schizophrenia in healthy volunteers. These findings are therefore important for our understanding of psychiatric diseases, which may arise as a consequence of 'disorchestrated brains' and could be treated by re-tuning brain activity," lead author Matt Jones said in a university news release.
The study appears Oct. 25 in the
Journal of Neuroscience.
"These results are an important step forward in our understanding of how rhythmic activity in the brain underlies thought processes in health and disease," study first author Michal Kucewicz said.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about
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