JUL 07, 2020 3:21 PM PDT

Why Cannabis Makes Everything Seem Interesting

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Experiencing novelty- or new things- is something most people look forward to. Whether it's traveling to new places, buying new clothes, making new friends, or eating a new dish- novel experiences are often both refreshing and fun. And as it turns out, the psychoactive compound in cannabis- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)- is very good at flicking on this novelty switch in our brains too. But how? 

The answer lies in the amygdala, the brain's emotional center. Beyond processing emotions, this part of the brain also compares incoming stimuli to those already familiar. When it receives an unfamiliar stimulus, like wearing a new shirt, it adds a unique 'zing' to alert to its new sensations- its texture, weight, and warmth. After you become used to the shirt, however, the amygdala stops adding this 'zing,' and you stop noticing how it feels to wear it.

As it turns out, this 'zing' function in our amygdala is regulated by our endocannabinoid system. And THC has a particularly strong influence on it, lowering the bar for what is recognized as 'new,' ultimately making us experience more novelty, more intensely. 

This heightened ability to sense novelty makes even simple and otherwise familiar things- like the streets in your neighborhood or walking to your kitchen, seem like a new adventure. It also makes looking at things we usually don't pay too much attention to like nature, fireplaces, and flowers seem more appealing; their small details suddenly become alive. This feeling of intense novelty during a 'high' leads many to repeat their use of cannabis. 

Curiously, however, using cannabis or THC is not the only way to experience this heightened sense of novelty. For example, meditation and jogging have also been shown to elevate the presence of endocannabinoids in the amygdala, and thus produce similar experiences.

 

Sources: Psychology TodayLeafly

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
AUG 14, 2020
Health & Medicine
Does Legalization of Cannabis Mean Users Actually Use Legal Sources?
AUG 14, 2020
Does Legalization of Cannabis Mean Users Actually Use Legal Sources?
Recent research from states that have legalized recreational cannabis, looked at whether users find the drug  is mo ...
AUG 16, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabinoids May Interact with Prescribed Medications
AUG 16, 2020
Cannabinoids May Interact with Prescribed Medications
Despite the growing popularity of cannabis products, information is currently limited on how they may interact with othe ...
AUG 20, 2020
Health & Medicine
Does Recreational Marijuana Out-of-Hours Affect Work Performance?
AUG 20, 2020
Does Recreational Marijuana Out-of-Hours Affect Work Performance?
Imagine that after a busy day at work you kick back with a relaxing cannabis joint. In many states that is now entirely ...
SEP 28, 2020
Health & Medicine
More Evidence That Cannabis Can Help Migraines
SEP 28, 2020
More Evidence That Cannabis Can Help Migraines
If you suffer with migraines you’ll do almost anything to relieve the agony when one strikes. For many people, tha ...
OCT 25, 2020
Health & Medicine
Over 4 in 10 People With MS Have Used Cannabis in the Last Year
OCT 25, 2020
Over 4 in 10 People With MS Have Used Cannabis in the Last Year
University of Michigan researchers have found that Americans with Multiple sclerosis (MS) are twice as likely as the gen ...
NOV 06, 2020
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Help for Fibromyalgia
NOV 06, 2020
Cannabis Help for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition with a spectrum of symptoms that include pervasive musculoskeletal pain accompa ...
Loading Comments...