Effect Of THC On Working Memory – Article Example

full The Effects of THC (Neural oscillations and memory functions) 14 January Effects of THC from Marijuana After alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is the third-most consumed drug in the world today because of its claimed medicinal properties to cure a variety of ailments such as nausea, muscle pain, anxiety, fatigue, epilepsy, and prevents blindness from glaucoma. Marijuana is of two varieties, the sativa and indica, both desired for their narcotic effect from its ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC for short) which is a psychoactive chemical element. In most cases, this drug induces a sleepy or groggy effect on users (Bell 62) but opponents of its use point to possible memory impairment induced by THC on neural oscillation networks.
Neural oscillation refers to the swinging back and forth in a steady uninterrupted rhythm observed in human brains, in particular, to the alpha and theta bands which reflect the cognitive and memory performance of the brain (Klimesch 170). Good memory functioning is observed in two types of EEG (electroencephalography) phenomena but the active ingredient THC in marijuana affects adversely these neural oscillations, in turn affecting the memory.
The effect of THC on neural oscillation is to slow down the oscillations, as THC is known to depress the central nervous system (CNS) which includes other side-effects such as tremors, ataxia, arrhythmia and importantly, the short term memory. THC affects memory by interfering with neurotransmitters that deliver data or information to the brain. The large-scale theta band oscillations bearing on synaptic plasticity beneficial for learning and memory are affected by THC by varying the firing rates (Albers, Schmiedt, & Pawelzik 1). A mammalian cortical network forms behavior-dependent oscillating networks of various sizes (Buzsaki 1928) which support temporal representation and consolidation of information into memory.
The hypothesis can be tested on live laboratory test subjects like rodents, monkeys, or other lower forms of mammals although there is one caveat in this approach. Oscillations observed in rats, for example, are faster compared to that of humans (Jacobs 3) so allowances should be made for this slight difference especially in large-scale theta oscillations. The study author had suggested using neurosurgical patients by recording their brain activity.
Works Cited
Albers, C., Schmiedt, J. T. and J. R. Pawelzik. “Theta-specific susceptibility in a model of adaptive synaptic plasticity.” Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience (2013): 1-3. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.
Bell, S. The Facts on File: Dictionary of Forensic Science. New York, NY, USA: Infobase Publishing, 2004. Print.
Buzsaki, G. “Neuronal oscillations in cortical networks.” Science 304. 5679 (2004): 1926-1929. Print.
Jacobs, J. “Hippocampal theta oscillations are slower in humans than in rodents: Implications for models of spatial navigation and memory.” Biological Sciences 369.1635 (2013): pp. 3-4. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.
Klimesch, W. ”EEG alpha and theta oscillations reflect cognitive and memory performance: a review and analysis.” Brain Research Reviews 29 (1999): 169-195. Print.