, Volume 63, Issue 14, pp 1597-1613

The roles of cannabinoid and dopamine receptor systems in neural emotional learning circuits: implications for schizophrenia and addiction

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Cannabinoids represent one of the most widely used hallucinogenic drugs and induce profound alterations in sensory perception and emotional processing. Similarly, the dopamine (DA) neurotransmitter system is critical for the central processing of emotion and motivation. Functional disturbances in either of these neurotransmitter systems are well-established correlates of the psychopathological symptoms and behavioral manifestations observed in addiction and schizophrenia. Increasing evidence from the anatomical, pharmacological and behavioral neuroscience fields points to complex functional interactions between these receptor systems at the anatomical, pharmacological and neural systems levels. An important question relates to whether these systems act in an orchestrated manner to produce the emotional processing and sensory perception deficits underlying addiction and schizophrenia. This review describes evidence for functional neural interactions between cannabinoid and DA receptor systems and how disturbances in this neural circuitry may underlie the aberrant emotional learning and processing observed in disorders such as addiction and schizophrenia.

Received 20 January 2006; received after revision 14 March 2006; accepted 29 March 2006