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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Jun;38(7):1276-86. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.26. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

Novelty-induced emotional arousal modulates cannabinoid effects on recognition memory and adrenocortical activity.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, P.le A. Moro 5, Rome, Italy.

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  • Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Sep;7:124.


Although it is well established that cannabinoid drugs can influence cognitive performance, the findings-describing both enhancing and impairing effects-have been ambiguous. Here, we investigated the effects of posttraining systemic administration of the synthetic cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 (0.1, 0.3, or 1.0 mg/kg) on short- and long-term retention of object recognition memory under two conditions that differed in their training-associated arousal level. In male Sprague-Dawley rats that were not previously habituated to the experimental context, WIN55,212-2 administered immediately after a 3-min training trial, biphasically impaired retention performance at a 1-h interval. In contrast, WIN55,212-2 enhanced 1-h retention of rats that had received extensive prior habituation to the experimental context. Interestingly, immediate posttraining administration of WIN55,212-2 to non-habituated rats, in doses that impaired 1-h retention, enhanced object recognition performance at a 24-h interval. Posttraining WIN55,212-2 administration to habituated rats did not significantly affect 24-h retention. In light of intimate interactions between cannabinoids and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, we further investigated whether cannabinoid administration might differently influence training-induced glucocorticoid activity in rats in these two habituation conditions. WIN55,212-2 administered after object recognition training elevated plasma corticosterone levels in non-habituated rats whereas it decreased corticosterone levels in habituated rats. Most importantly, following pretreatment with the corticosterone-synthesis inhibitor metyrapone, WIN55,212-2 effects on 1- and 24-h retention of non-habituated rats became similar to those seen in the low-aroused habituated animals, indicating that cannabinoid-induced regulation of adrenocortical activity contributes to the environmentally sensitive effects of systemically administered cannabinoids on short- and long-term retention of object recognition memory.

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