Authors: Alara Güvenli, Sabrina Zequeira, Matthew Bruner, Josue Fritz Deslauriers, Marcelo Febo, Jennifer Bizon, Barry Setlow.
Faculty Mentor: Barry Setlow
College: College of Medicine
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States, and individuals over the age of 65 are the fastest growing demographic of cannabis users. With the number of older adults in the US expected to reach 90 million by 2050, it is imperative to understand the potential cognitive impacts of cannabis consumption in this population. Studies in animal models show that acute administration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can impair performance on cognitive tasks dependent upon the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The current study assessed the performance of male, fully mature young adult (6 months) and aged (24 months) Fischer 344 x Brown Norway F1 hybrid rats on a delayed response working memory task. The task required rats to remember the location of a visual stimulus over variable delay periods that ranged from 0-24 s. A semi-randomized, within-subjects experimental design was used such that each rat was exposed to smoke from 0, 1, 3, and 5 cannabis cigarettes immediately prior to working memory test sessions. Results indicated that rats with worse baseline performance showed improved task performance following acute exposure to cannabis smoke, suggesting that passive smoke exposure can enhance prefrontal cortex-dependent cognition.