Behavioural changes and alterations to feeding induced by two isolated phyto-cannabinoids: THCV and CBD

The appetite-stimulating properties of marijuana have been well-documented over the last decade. However, only the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC) has been studied in detail. Here we will examine the behavioural changes and alterations to meal patterns induced by two newly isolated phyto-cannabinoids: ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Department: Psychology, Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Supervised by: Clare Williams

The Placement Project

Marijuana has been used and abused for both medicinal and mood-altering effects for hundreds of years. It contains over 400 compounds, of which more than 60 are cannabinoids. Few of these phyto-cannabinoids have been comprehensively examined for their medicinal purposes. Ongoing work at the University of Reading seeks to explore the potential uses of cannabis, or individual phyto-cannabinoids, in the regulation of feeding behaviour. This project will examine the behavioural changes and alterations to feeding induced by administration of two individual phyto-cannabinoids: ?-9-THCV and CBD. You will simultaneously utilize two different methodologies to examine changes in behaviour following administration of doses of ?-9-THCV or CBD: (1) observational analysis of general behaviour which utilises continuous, computerised video analysis to determine the frequency, duration and temporal distribution of mutually-exclusive behavioural categories (e.g. locomotion, exploration, rearing, grooming, resting); and (2) meal pattern analysis which examines alterations to spontaneous feeding using automated ‘eatometer’ apparatus, recording from microbalance-linked food dispensers to yield information on eating rate; size, duration and frequency of meals, and intermeal intervals. Analysis of these data streams will produce a clear understanding of the gross modifications to behaviour induced by ?-9-THCV and CBD, while detailed analysis of their potential appetite-stimulating or appetite-suppressing roles will provide important evidence for their development as new therapies in relation to appetite and body weight regulation.


Drug administration on each test day will be completed by the supervisor or a Home-Office-licensed member of her team. The student will complete two dose-response experiments (3 drug doses plus 1 vehicle dose; 8 test days; 2 weeks) for each drug of interest (THCV and CBD). The student will code and analyse both experiments (4 weeks). The student will also write, with the advice and support, the initial draft of the method and results sections of the journal article.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

General knowledge of experimental methodology, willingness to handle rats, experience in using software for statistical analyses (e.g. SPSS) and general computing skills (e.g. Word, Excel).

Skills which will be developed during the placement

Hands-on experience conducting psychopharmacological experiments, knowledge of ‘TSE Feeding & Drinking Monitoring’ software and our CCTV behavioural monitoring system. The student will also learn how to code data using ‘Observer Video-Pro’ software, and will further their skills with SPSS and Excel. They will be second author on the resulting article.

Place of Work

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, with access to laboratory in AMS

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Unknown - Unknown

How to Apply

Please apply by CV to

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