28 November 2006

Science Meets Willie Nelson

From the OSU College of Medicine:

Researchers found that moderate amounts of alcohol – amounts equivalent to a couple of drinks a day for a human – improved the memories of laboratory rats.

“We saw a noticeable change on the surface of certain neurons in rats that were given alcohol..."

They found that low levels of alcohol increased the expression of a particular receptor, NR1, on the surface of neurons in a region of the brain, the hippocampus, that plays a role in memory. Researchers think that NR1 plays a role in memory and learning.

And from OSU's Dept. of Psychology:

New evidence in rats suggests that marijuana may contain compounds that slow the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Treatment with a synthetic compound similar to marijuana reduced inflammation in older rats in addition to making the animals “smarter,” said Wenk...

“The compound substantially improved the memories of the older rats,” he said. “These animals were able to hold on to key details of a specific task. Untreated older rats, on the other hand, were not.”

Evidence suggests that people who regularly smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s rarely develop Alzheimer's disease, said Wenk, adding that researchers are eager to develop a drug with the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana, but without the drug's psychoactive effects.

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