In a recent report published in Psychological Medicine, researchers performed fMRI scans to measure brain activity in 13 patients suffering from an acute manic episode. Senior author, Professor Sagnik Bhattacharyya, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London and his team observed how the endocannabinoid system could be altered in these patients. The brain is filled with cannabinoid receptors that make up our endocannabinoid system. Alterations in the activities of the endocannabinoid system may provide important insight into how the brain behaves in an acute manic episode.
Brain scans of people suffering from acute mania showed unusual activity. There was increased activity in the hippocampus and the striatum. This increase in functional connectivity was not observed in the controls. When the subjects with acute mania took a dose of cannabidiol, the altered pattern of brain activity was moderated in the prefrontal, mediotemporal, and striatal areas. Bhattacharyya observed reduced connectivity, effectively ameliorating some of the altered brain states associated with mania.
Bhattacharyya and his team are encouraged by the results and would like to see some larger-scale clinical trials of how to support the healthy functioning of the endocannabinoid system.