William James famously described babies’ mental states as "one great blooming, buzzing confusion” (James, 1890). Whether their bewilderment is beset with blooms or buzzes, the similarities between being a baby and being baked are uncanny. To wit:
Coincidence or Cannabinoids?
Anecdotal and empirical evidence indicate that marijuana’s concentration of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) accounts for the aforementioned behaviors while under its influence (Kuhn, Swartzwelder, & Wilson, 2008). Might cannabinoids also account for stoner behaviors in babies?
Twenty years ago, researchers discovered that the human brain has natural endocannabinoid receptors that bind with the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), among other compounds (Devane et al., 1992). To date however, no solid evolutionary hypothesis for the existence of this receptor system exists. Why did evolution design our brains to produce its own concoction of cannibinoids and an associated receptor system (a system, it appears, that the THC in marijuana “hijacks”)?
The adaptationist in me wonders if our endocannabinoid receptor system is particularly active early in life in order to serve some adaptive value for newborns and infants. Future researchers might consider testing this “baked baby hypothesis” by exploring if the receptor system serves to:
Just a thought. A stoned thought, I suppose.
PS: Additional (and quite hilarious) "evidence" of babies’ lack of sobriety is compiled here.
Devane, W. A., et al. (1992). Isolation and structure of a brain constituent that binds to the cannabinoid receptor. Science, 258, 1946-1949.
James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology.
Kuhn, C., Swartzwelder, S., & Wilson, W. (2008). Buzzed: The straight facts about the most used and abused drugs from alcohol to ecstasy (third edition). New York: Norton.
Copyright © 2012 Barry X. Kuhle. All rights reserved.
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