Study: THC Increases Brain Activity In Response To Positive Stimuli

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 thoughts

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. It certainly helps with my depression. Anxiety can be a problem, but I just get myself involved with something and it goes away.

  9. It does make me think and to imagined the possibilities of what will become, and create something even better. The narrow minded prohibitionist would call it scattered brain, foolish daydreaming, and waste of time.

  10. I Agree Robert, It makes me more tolerant of others as we’ll, more creative, happier, Peaceful…

  11. The true meaning of Zen is to be curious about everything. Scientist love to proclaim what is not possible, without any actual action.By investigating the actual properties of Kaneh bos, we could have healed ourselves and this planet long ago. Never give in.

  12. Mexweed…chill. And just getting straight to the point…in the book of Genisis it states that each plant that bares its own seeds was given to us.


  13. Interesting conclusion that they’ve arrived at through scientific study. Easy to see where it could use in treating depression. Glad to see there are those in the pursuit of truth through science.

  14. I have consumed cannabis for 32 4 yrs without because of drug testing in the workplace. I can personally attest to this article. cannabis has always been a benefit to me being somewhat at peace inside is quite a benefit to one on the outside.for these last 4 yrs, I have dealt with bouts of depression, anxiety , confusion that have been most debilitating in the physical sense.for years as a pre teen before consuming, it was the same deal.thru my years as an adult, I have been able to keep a more positive outlook of life and feel that cannabis was a great help.i learned their were times not to consume and respected the responsibility of its use. physically ,i don’t sit on the couch all day.i am very much inspired to get up and do! I am more able to put things in perspective and deal with any task at hand.i have held a good job, raised an awesome famil , paid my bills and been good to my neighbors .these last 4 yrs have been the hell I have felt in my youth.mass confusion had kept me more on the friggen couch then ever.i actually felt more comfortable in my own skin while consuming cannabis..i am also much more outgoing then the introvert I feel i am at this point.always had a good feeling of looking ahead then .not feeling too much these days…cannabis has been a benefit in my life and, I want it back!….peace to you all….

  15. Soo.. Marijuana makes good things better, and bad things not so bad. We all knew that already didn’t we? This would explain why it helps so much with pain as well. Nice to be validated.

  16. I can’t help but wonder how much our culture has suffered under the yoke of oppressive cannabis prohibition. Historians have tried to put light on the black market undercurrents growing exponentially outside the light of witnessing without controlling. The war on the american people has led us down a path of self destruction with confiscation without due process having a place of legitimacy among the producers of the american dream. Institutional theft has lowered our moral codes, discreditied law enforcement as a behavioral guide, and made extortion a social tool written into law and forcing good people to do bad things in the fog of war.

  17. It is natural medicine, but unlike alcohol or any other drug, prescribed or sanctioned, no one has ever passed away from a marijuana overdose.

  18. cerberus…if your comment was directed to my words,yes, we already know all of this but, for someone perusing this blog knowing nothing about what people get from cannabis other then a great buzz,i feel its good to let them know their is more benefit in using it….have a great day my friend!

  19. I have intaken cannibus on multiple accounts. personally I have experienced weird things. I could see into things more clearly sch as I saw inside of my body and felt impulses of vomit coming low and behold 5 10 minutes later vomited. I think marijuana can open up your mind and has no negative effects whatsoever. pure marijuana allowed me to see things in different angles and perspectives and I have also expirenced which I believe was large amounts of my cerebral cortex being overdrived. just want to share my accounts and strange encounters. yes I have consumed only marijuana no laced no spice or any synthetics.

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