, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 117–123 | Cite as

Learning impairment in the radial-arm maze following prolonged cannabis treatment in rats

  • Alexander Stiglick
  • Harold Kalant
Original Investigations


Chronic oral administration of cannabis extract to rats (daily Δ9tetrahydrocannabinol dose 20 mg/kg) was examined in three experiments for its residual effect on radialarm maze learning following a 1-month drug-free period. Learning a simple eight-arm maze was significantly impaired in rats treated for either 6 months (Experiment I) or 3 months (Experiment II) with the drug. In Experiment III, animals that received the extract for 3 months exhibited significant learning deficits on a much more difficult 12-arm radial maze. The results demonstrate that the deleterious effects of cannabis on radial-arm maze learning are probably due to a tendency toward increased vigilance and perseveration, possibly combined with an impaired utilization of spatial cues.

Key words

Chronic cannabis Learning Radial-arm maze Rat 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alfano DP, Petit TL (1981) Behavioral effects of postnatal lead exposure: Possible relationship to hippocampal dysfunction. Behav Neural Biol 32:319–332Google Scholar
  2. Bond NW, DiGiusto EL (1976) Impairment of Hebb-Williams maze performance following prolonged alcohol consumption in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 5:85–86Google Scholar
  3. Fehr KO (1977) The behavioral toxicity of cannabis in the rat. PhD Thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  4. Fehr KA, Kalant H, LeBlanc AE (1976) Residual learning deficit after heavy exposure to cannabis or alcohol in rats. Science 193:1249–1251Google Scholar
  5. Fehr KO, Kalant H, Knox GV (1979) Residual effects of high-dose cannabis treatment on learning, muricidal behavior and neurophysiological correlates in rats. In: Nahas GG, Paton WDM (eds) Marihuana: Biological effects. Analysis, metabolism, cellular responses, reproduction and brain. Pergamon, Oxford, pp 681–691Google Scholar
  6. Kimble DP (1978) Effects of combined entorhinal cortex-hippocampal lesions on locomotor behavior, spontaneous alternation and spatial maze learning in the rat. Physiol Behav 21:177–187Google Scholar
  7. Klausner HA, Dingell JV (1971) Metabolism and excretion of 123-1 in the rat. Life Sci 10:49–59Google Scholar
  8. LeBlanc AE (1972) Behavioral and pharmacological variables in the development of ethanol tolerance. PhD Thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  9. Olton DS (1977) Spatial memory. Sci Am 236:82–98Google Scholar
  10. Olton DS, Collison C, Werz MA (1977) Spatial memory and radial arm maze performance in rats. Learn Motiv 8:289–314Google Scholar
  11. Olton DS, Samuelson RJ (1976) Remembrance of places passed: Spatial memory in rats. J Exp Psychol (Anim Behav) 2:97–116Google Scholar
  12. Olton DS, Walker JA, Gage FH (1978) Hippocampal connections and spatial discrimination. Brain Res 139:295–308Google Scholar
  13. Olton DS, Werz MA (1978) Hippocampal function and behavior: Spatial discrimination and response inhibition. Physiol Behav 20:596–605Google Scholar
  14. Rosenkrantz H, Sprague RA, Fleishman RW, Braude MC (1975) Oral 123-2 toxicity in rats treated for periods up to 6 months. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 32:399–417Google Scholar
  15. Schmaltz LW (1971) Deficit in active avoidance learning following penicillin injection into hippocampus. Physiol Behav 6:667–674Google Scholar
  16. Snell D, Harris RA (1980) Impairment of avoidance behavior following short-term ingestion of ethanol, tertiary-butanol, or pentobarbital in mice. Psychopharmacology 69:53–57Google Scholar
  17. Sofia RD, Barry H III (1974) Acute and chronic effects of 123-3 on food intake by rats. Psychopharmacology 39:213–222Google Scholar
  18. Stiglick A, Kalant H (1982) Residual effects of prolonged cannabis administration on exploration and DRL performance in rats. Psychopharmacology 77:124–128Google Scholar
  19. Walker DW, Freund G (1971) Impairment of shuttle box avoidance learning following prolonged alcohol consumption in rats. Physiol Behav 7:773–778Google Scholar
  20. Walker DW, Freund G (1973) Impairment of timing behavior after prolonged alcohol consumption in rats. Science 183:597–599Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Stiglick
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harold Kalant
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Addiction Research Foundation of OntarioTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations