OCT 21, 2020 9:30 AM PDT

Exercise Reverses Learning Impairments from Cannabinoid Issues

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

While cannabinoids usually get attention for their recreational effects, these molecules play a role in several other processes, too- including learning. Now, researchers from Portugal have found that learning impairments caused by genetically disabled cannabinoid receptors in mice can be repaired by a simple behavioral intervention- exercise. 

For the study, the researchers subjected mice, who had been genetically modified to lack cannabinoid receptors, to a classical learning task known as eyeblink conditioning. For the task, the mice learned to associate a sensory stimulus, a flash of light, with a puff of air to the eye. Once learned, they tended to close their eyes when the light appears to avoid the air puff- like Pavlov’s dog abiding by a bell. 

In doing so, the researchers found that the mice genetically engineered to lack cannabinoid receptors tended to learn more slowly than mice without the mutation. As previous studies have suggested that cannabinoids mediate neural plasticity, they initially thought that interfering with this process may fix the issue. Tests to confirm this, however, showed that this was not the case. 

As such, the researchers then thought back to a study they conducted two years prior, finding that the more ice ran, the better they were able to learn. To test whether reduced activity levels among the mice may have impaired learning in the cannabinoid receptor-deficient mice, the team placed all the mice on a motorized treadmill and ensured that both they and their genetically-normal counterparts walked just as much. 

As such, they found that both the normal and mutant mice were able to learn at the same rate. The researchers also found that other cerebellar behaviors, locomotor coordination, and learning returned to normal in the genetically-altered mice. 

“These experiments further supported our hypothesis that disrupted cannabinoid signaling was impairing learning by altering behavioral state, and not through direct effects on neural plasticity in the cerebellum,” says Megan Carey, one of the study’s authors. 

“There is a growing body of evidence that behavioral state profoundly influences brain function...Our study highlights the need to consider the behavioral state as a powerful independent means through which individual genes contribute to complex behaviors.”

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewseLife

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
MAY 13, 2021
Health & Medicine
New Peptide Allows Cannabis to Fight Pain With Fewer Side Effects
MAY 13, 2021
New Peptide Allows Cannabis to Fight Pain With Fewer Side Effects
THC-rich cannabis is well known to bring relief for some chronic pain sufferers. But the downside, off putting for many ...
MAY 21, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Parental Consumption of Cannabis Increases Teen Consumption
MAY 21, 2021
Parental Consumption of Cannabis Increases Teen Consumption
Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have found that teens brought up in homes where their pare ...
MAY 25, 2021
Health & Medicine
Cannabis: Could it Help Chronic Itch?
MAY 25, 2021
Cannabis: Could it Help Chronic Itch?
Chronic itch —clinically known as chronic pruritus — is characterized as an unrelenting sensation to scratch ...
MAY 29, 2021
Health & Medicine
No Uptick in Students of High School Age Using Cannabis
MAY 29, 2021
No Uptick in Students of High School Age Using Cannabis
It’s a startling statistic: In 2019, about 22 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported that illegal drugs ...
JUN 01, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Recreational Cannabis Laws Linked to Changes in Illegal Drug Market
JUN 01, 2021
Recreational Cannabis Laws Linked to Changes in Illegal Drug Market
Researchers have found that recreational cannabis laws in the US may be linked to changes in the illegal drug market.&nb ...
JUL 07, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Experts Reach Consensus on Dosing Cannabis for Chronic Pain
JUL 07, 2021
Experts Reach Consensus on Dosing Cannabis for Chronic Pain
Twenty cannabis experts from across the globe have reached a consensus on how medical cannabis may be used to treat chro ...
Loading Comments...