Use of these inhibitors in new born mice resulted in a disruption of cortical plasticity, according to study in Neuron.

Antiobesity drugs that work by blocking cannabinoids could also interfere with neural development in young children, according to a study from MIT’s The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

The researchers investigated plasticitythe, the brain’s ability to change in response to experience, by temporarily depriving newborn mice of vision in one eye soon after birth. This experiment induces a long-lasting loss of synapses that causes blindness in the covered eye, while synapses shift to the uncovered eye.

The MIT researchers found that even one day of deprivation from one eye starts the shift to dominance of the uncovered eye. But injecting the mice with a cannabinoid receptor blocker halted the shift in certain brain regions, indicating that cannabinoids play a key role in early synaptic development.

“Our finding of a profound disruption of cortical plasticity in juvenile mice suggests caution is advised in the use of such compounds in children,” writes lead author, Mark F. Bear, director of the Picower Institute and Picower Professor of Neuroscience, in the paper published on May 8 in Neuron.

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