Study: THC Increases Brain Activity In Response To Positive Stimuli

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 27, 2013

    The administration of THC modulates emotional processing in healthy volunteers, according to placebo-controlled crossover trial data published online by the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

    Investigators from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on 11 healthy male subjects. Following the administration of THC or placebo, researchers assessed subjects’ brain activity during their exposure to stimuli with a negative (‘fearful faces’) content or a positive content (‘happy faces’). They hypothesized that THC administration would reduce subjects’ negative bias in emotional processing and shift it towards a positive bias. A bias toward negative stimuli has been linked to diagnoses of certain mental illnesses such as depression.

    As anticipated, authors reported a reduction brain activity after THC administration when subjects’ processed stimuli with a negative emotional content. Conversely, researchers reported increased brain activity following THC administration when subjects’ processed stimuli with a positive emotional content.

    They concluded: “These results indicate that THC administration reduces the negative bias in emotional processing. This adds human evidence to support the hypothesis that the endocannabinoid system is involved in modulation of emotional processing. Our findings also suggest a possible role for the endocannabinoid system in abnormal emotional processing, and may thus be relevant for psychiatric disorders such as major depression.”

    An abstract of the study, “The endocannabinoid system and emotional processing: A pharmacological fMRI study with ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol,” appears online here.

    23 responses to “Study: THC Increases Brain Activity In Response To Positive Stimuli”

    1. Mr. Sandman says:

      so, smoking weed and doing what you like to do makes you happy.

      got it.

    2. mexweed says:

      This has an important bearing on the theories of “set and setting”, which are actually about sitting, or a Christian might say sittin’ alias sin. Sitting is usually somewhat of a defensive posture though one can do good work sitting (like I’m doing now, heh heh). So a sitting person doing tokes and then just sitting some more– maybe because of a “setting” that fools them into thinking that’s all they can do there, or a mental “set” they have of preferring to sit– is using the herb to put a positive spin on something negative, i.e. they use the herb because they think it helps them feel good even while sittin’ and failing to do anything positive.

      Because the alternative to sittin’ is gettin’ up and doin’ something positive, if cannabinoids truly can accentuate that, can remind the user to do that, then legalization of cannabis will thus make it possible for masses of educated (i.e. VAPE-literate instead of H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide joint-puffin’) users to rise up and do something positive more often and sit less, get more exercise, enjoy better health and save the forests of our planet.

    3. Mikeap53 says:

      I’ve been dealing with depression and every associated drug since 1999. Cannabis is by far the best treatment for this disorder. I see so many depressed alcoholics taking Paxil, etc and drinking alcohol thinking they are doing something good for themselves! Shame steeple!

    4. Gweedo says:

      I find these types of findings to be absolutely amazing. Cannabis is responsible for so many positive things; why is it treated like some sort of disease by so many people?

    5. Dave Evans says:

      Off Topic, but you guys need to look into Marfan’s syndrome. If you have this disorder, you have a 50% probability of devoloping Glaucoma. This genetic disorder needs to be recognized as a “qualifying condition” for medical marijuana.

      And Glaucomo is only the tip of the iceberg for all the problems and difficulties people with Marfans have to endure. It can flat out kill you by causing an arotic rupture. Massive amounts of nerve damage from injuries normal people wouldn’t have received because their connective tissue isn’t weak.

    6. J-Bot says:

      This is sooo awesome.

    7. This is an important study. Hopefully, it will catch the eye of more colleagues in the psychotherapeutic and primary care fields.

      From my perspective, it is criminal that we have been so slow to address the positive impact cannabis can have as a psychotropic for potentially life threatening conditions. How can we, when our empire continues to thwart sound research? It is made even more difficult when the government fans the flame of righteous indignation over the use of this beneficial herb by criminalizing the people who use it. Interestingly, so many voters have experienced its benefits that the government’s behavior is reducing its credibility exponentially. The payoffs from big pharma, the industrial prison complex, the alcohol and tobacco industries and heaven knows who else must be huge for our representatives to be willing to be so wrong for so long. It makes me wonder if humanity can survive Capitalism.

    8. teri ward says:

      I have had good response to deppression, ive fought depression all my life. Now my children suffer from it also. One has agoraphobia. We have all had a good response to these problems using mj. I wish i had it medically, how long will it be in Illinois, will we get charged now that its passed the law? If they catch someone now what will happen? Are we only allowed through the drs, and dispensaries?

    9. Legalize Cannabis Freedom !!!!

    10. Don Berry says:

      The more we learn about cannabis, the more it seems like nature’s gift to the human race. That’s exactly opposite it’s portrayal by our government. Cannabis prohibition is certainly one of the biggest blunders in political history.