Research has indicated that repeated stress can create and intensify cognitive impairment in memory and learning. But recent research reveals that cannabinoid (naturally occurring chemicals found in marijuana) treatments have been successful in preventing such effects. Because of this, researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel investigated the same interaction, but with chronic stress.
The two-week study used rats and a technique called chronic restraint stress in which researchers kept the rats from moving, which causes a stress reaction. After this daily process, half the rats (experimental group) were treated with a full agonist that activates the CB1 receptor of the cannabinoid system. The remaining rats represented the control group.
Data from the study reveals the many issues caused by chronic stress. These issues are not only expressed through a person’s mood; stress also seems to place a burden on a number of biological processes, such as impairing neuron functioning, which leads to difficulties with learning through reinforcement and with memory recall.
Thirty days after the treatment period, data suggested that the activation of the cannabinoid system prevented the cognitive deficits caused by chronic stress. The experimental group also performed better with object recognition. They were able to identify an object based on its physical properties more readily than the control group.