Cannabinoid function in spatial learning: An update

L. Robinson*, G. Riedel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


It has long been known that cannabinoids can alter perception and cognitive function. In this review article, we first discuss the current knowledge of both plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoid effects on learning and memory formation in animals with a particular emphasis on spatial mapping. It appears that stimulation of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain is detrimental to spatial learning, and recent advances suggest that working memory is particularly vunerable and in some cases the involvement of the cannabinoid system in memory consolidation. Most of these effects are mediated by CB1 receptors, and blockade of these receptors can, under certain conditions enhance learning. In the second part, we investigate whether cannabinoid effects can be explained in terms of modulation of other transmitter systems. Since CB1 is G-protein-coupled and predominantly presynaptically localised, the primary effect may lie in a down/up-regulation of other transmitters, resulting in memory deficits. Such an analysis proved useful as it revealed that modulation of the noradrenergic and cholinergic system is readily able to explain deficits reported in memory consolidation, while cholinergic, dopaminergic, and GABAergic regulation may explain working memory deficit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • CB receptors
  • Cholecystokinin
  • Cholinergic system
  • Dopamine
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin
  • Spatial learning and memory


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