News of the WeekNeurobiology

How Cannabinoids Work in the Brain

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Science  30 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5513, pp. 2530-2531
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5513.2530

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Researchers have discovered that "endogenous cannabinoids," marijuana-like chemicals made by our brain whose function has long been a mystery, play key roles in a process that may be central to the laying down of memory. In reports this week in Nature and Neuron, three independent research teams have shown that cannabinoids are dispatched by some brain neurons to fine-tune the signals they receive; one form of the process occurs in the hippocampus, a brain area involved in memory. The discovery offers the first concrete example of physiological function for the endogenous cannabinoids, say neuroscientists.