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Basal Ganglia. 2012 Sep 1;2(3):131-138. Epub 2012 Jul 28.

Cannabinoids and value-based decision making: implications for neurodegenerative disorders.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurosciences, Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, VU university medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


In recent years, disturbances in cognitive function have been increasingly recognized as important symptomatic phenomena in neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's Disease (PD). Value-based decision making in particular is an important executive cognitive function that is not only impaired in patients with PD, but also shares neural substrates with PD in basal ganglia structures and the dopamine system. Interestingly, the endogenous cannabinoid system modulates dopamine function and subsequently value-based decision making. This review will provide an overview of the interdisciplinary research that has influenced our understanding of value-based decision making and the role of dopamine, particularly in the context of reinforcement learning theories, as well as recent animal and human studies that demonstrate the modulatory role of activation of cannabinoid receptors by exogenous agonists or their naturally occurring ligands. The implications of this research for the symptomatology of and potential treatments for PD are also discussed.

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