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Eur J Pharmacol. 2005 Mar 7;510(1-2):69-74.

Cannabinoid CB1 receptor is dispensable for memory extinction in an appetitively-motivated learning task.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie, AG Neuronale Plastizität/Mausverhalten, Kraepelinstr. 2, D-80804 München, Germany.


The interaction of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor with its endogenous ligands plays an essential role in extinction of aversive memories (Marsicano, G., Wotjak, C.T., Azad, S.C., Bisogno, T., Rammes, G., Cascio, M.G., Hermann, H., Tang, J., Hofmann, C., Zieglgansberger, W., Di, M., V, Lutz, B., 2002. The endogenous cannabinoid system controls extinction of aversive memories. Nature 418, 530-534). The present study tested the generality of this observation in respect to positively-reinforced memories. To this end, male cannabinoid CB1 receptor deficient mice (CB1R-/-) and their wild-type littermate controls (CB1R+/+) were trained in an appetitively-motivated operant conditioning task, in which food-deprived animals received a food reward on nose-poking into an illuminated hole. During training, CB1R-/- turned out to be less motivated to participate in the task. After further restriction of daily food consumption, however, CB1R-/- reached the same level of performance as CB1R+/+ as far as number of correct responses and errors of omission are concerned. The accuracy of performance served as a measure for the memory of the light-reward association and was stable at similarly high levels over a retention period of 9 days without additional training (97.6+/-0.5% vs. 97.0+/-0.9% correct responses). During subsequent extinction training, the positive reinforcement was omitted. As a consequence, both CB1R-/- and CB1R+/+ showed a similar decline in accuracy of performance and total number of correct responses, accompanied by an increase in errors of omission. These data demonstrate that the cannabinoid CB1 receptor is not essential for extinction of the stimulus-response association in an appetitively-motivated learning task.

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