Your Brain on Drugs Marijuana
For centuries, humans have been using substances to alter their state of mind. From caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol to more extreme drugs. But as the most commonly used illicit drug in North America, Where does marijuana fit in and how exactly does it affect your brain? First, we need to understand how the brain functions. Neurons are the cells that process information in the brain. By releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters.
From the axon of one neuron to the dendrite of another they change the electrical charge of the receiving neuron consequently exciting or inhibiting it. If excited, the signal is passed on. Though it sounds simple these signals work together and the effect is quickly compouned into complex configurations within milliseconds flashing over the entire brain. This is what happens every single time you think, breathe or move.
So what is going on inside your brain when you’re smoking marijuana? Well unlike alcohol, which contains molecules nothing like those in our body, cannabis contains molecules that resemble those produced in our very own brains: cannabonoids. Although naturally these cannabonoids circulate at much lower quantities compared to the large influx imposed by smoking, specifically the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
Resembles a natural transmitter called â€œanandamideâ€�. These cannabonoids are specialized neurotransmitters released by neurons having just fired. Neurons temporarily become unresponsive after firing to prevent them from overracting or being too dominant. This allows your brain to function in a calm and controlled manner. But cannabonoids interrupt this approach in some parts of the brain. Instead, they remove the refractory period of neurons that are already active.
And can cause your thoughts, imagination, and perception to utterly magnify itself. This means, once you begin your train of thought it becomes the most significant and profound thing ever. You can’t see the big picture or even recall your last epiphany because you’re caught up in the momentum of a particular idea and your neurons keep firing until a new idea takes hold and you go off on a new tangent. These cannabonoids also affect the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain.
Often leading to a sense of euphoria, relaxation, pain modulation and general enhancement of an experience, though sometimes causing anxiety. Furthermore, there are cannabonoid receptors in areas controlling shortterm memory, learning, coordination, movement control and higher cognitive functions. Got a burning question you want answered? Ask them in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.
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A simple way to break a bad habit Judson Brewer
When I was first learning to meditate, the instruction was to simply pay attention to my breath, and when my mind wandered, to bring it back. Sounded simple enough. Yet I’d sit on these silent retreats, sweating through Tshirts in the middle of winter. I’d take naps every chance I got because it was really hard work. Actually, it was exhausting.
The instruction was simple enough but I was missing something really important. So why is it so hard to pay attention? Well, studies show that even when we’re really trying to pay attention to something like maybe this talk at some point, about half of us will drift off into a daydream,.
Or have this urge to check our Twitter feed. So what’s going on here? It turns out that we’re fighting one of the most evolutionarilyconserved learning processes currently known in science, one that’s conserved back to the most basic nervous systems known to man. This rewardbased learning process is called positive and negative reinforcement,.
And basically goes like this. We see some food that looks good, our brain says, quot;Calories! . Survival!quot; We eat the food, we taste it it tastes good. And especially with sugar, our bodies send a signal to our brain that says, quot;Remember what you’re eating and where you found it.quot;.
We lay down this contextdependent memory and learn to repeat the process next time. See food, eat food, feel good, repeat. Trigger, behavior, reward. Simple, right? Well, after a while, our creative brains say,.
quot;You know what? You can use this for more than just remembering where food is. You know, next time you feel bad, why don’t you try eating something good so you’ll feel better?quot; We thank our brains for the great idea, try this and quickly learn that if we eat chocolate or ice cream when we’re mad or sad, we feel better.
Same process, just a different trigger. Instead of this hunger signal coming from our stomach, this emotional signal feeling sad triggers that urge to eat. Maybe in our teenage years, we were a nerd at school, and we see those rebel kids outside smoking and we think,.