The Endocannabinoid System and Extinction Learning

Abstract

The endocannabinoid system has emerged as a versatile neuromodulatory system, implicated in a plethora of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 receptor) and endocannabinoids are widely distributed in the brain. Their roles in learning and memory have been well documented, using rodents in various memory tests. Depending on the test, the endocannabinoid system is required in the acquisition and/or extinction of memory. In particular, the activation of CB1 receptor-mediated signaling is centrally involved in the facilitation of behavioral adaptation after the acquisition of aversive memories. As several human psychiatric disorders, such as phobia, generalized anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to involve aberrant memory processing and impaired adaptation to changed environmental conditions, the hope has been fuelled that the endocannabinoid system might be a valuable therapeutic target for the treatment of these disorders. This review summarizes the current data on the role of the endocannabinoid system in the modulation of extinction learning.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Drs. Krisztina Monory and Fabricio Moreira for critically reading the manuscript and the generous support by the Hübner Stiftung.

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Correspondence to Beat Lutz.

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Lutz, B. The Endocannabinoid System and Extinction Learning. Mol Neurobiol 36, 92–101 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12035-007-8004-x

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Keywords

  • Endocannabinoids
  • Cannabinoid receptor
  • THC
  • Extinction
  • Habituation
  • Anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Phobia
  • Rodent
  • Fear conditioning