Analytical Chemistry Seminar
Analytical & Environmental Chemistry Division and Atmospheric Chemistry Program Seminar
Jointly sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CIRES, and the Environmental Program
Cannabidiol-dependent modulation of cognitive learning and synaptic function
by Prof. Jeff Smith
The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, currently lists Cannabidiol as having potential therapeutic value for treating neurological disorders that include a strong learning and memory component including; anxiety, psychosis, pain, and substance use disorders. It is also being studied for its potential to modulate various neurodegenerative disorders that profoundly affect learning and memory including Alzheimer’s disease. Despite this potential therapeutic importance, the current scientific understanding of exactly how Cannabidiol affects various forms of learning and memory, and the underlying cellular mechanisms that it targets, is inadequate to guide its most efficacious and least harmful use for treating such disorders. Our research advances knowledge in this area by showing that Cannabidiol modulates trace fear conditioning in mice. These experiments model cognitive learning and memory processes and involve multiple brain regions, including the hippocampus, which has a critical role in the learning and memory disorders listed above, and it is essential for achieving normal trace fear conditioning in rodents. Our work further shows that Cannabidiol modulates basal synaptic transmission in mouse hippocampal slices by affecting conduction velocity in the Shaffer collateral and Mossy Fiber pathways, and by modulating synaptic plasticity in these regions. Impulse propagation and synaptic plasticity are essential fundamental mechanisms that support learning and memory, therefore our results present a clearer picture of how Cannabidiol might be most useful, and least harmful for treating neurological disorders that have a strong cognitive learning and memory component.