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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2008 Apr 16;286(1-2 Suppl 1):S97-S107. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.02.006. Epub 2008 Feb 16.

Neurobiological mechanisms of cannabinoid addiction.

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Institute of Neuroscience CNR, National Research Council, Section of Cagliari, Italy.


The endocannabinoid system is implicated in the regulation of a variety of physiological processes, among which conditioning, motivation, habit forming, memory, learning, and cognition play pivotal roles in drug reinforcement and reward. In this article we will give a synopsis of last developments in research on cannabinoid actions on brain reward circuits coming from behavioral, neurochemical and electrophysiological studies. Central cannabinoid-induced effects as measured by animal models of addiction, in vivo cerebral microdialysis, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological recording techniques, will be reviewed. Brain sites that have been implicated in the mediation of addictive cannabinoid properties include primarily the ventral tegmental area, the nucleus accumbens, and the medial prefrontal cortex, although the amygdala, the substantia nigra, the globus pallidus, and the hippocampus have also been shown to be critical structures mediating motivational and reinforcing effects of cannabinoids. Putative neurobiological mechanisms underlying these effects will be delineated.

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