Front Synaptic Neurosci. 2021 Jun 10;13:660218. doi: 10.3389/fnsyn.2021.660218. eCollection 2021.
Motivational and attentional processes energize action sequences to facilitate evolutionary competition and promote behavioral fitness. Decades of neuropharmacology, electrophysiology and electrochemistry research indicate that the mesocorticolimbic DA pathway modulates both motivation and attention. More recently, it was realized that mesocorticolimbic DA function is tightly regulated by the brain’s endocannabinoid system and greatly influenced by exogenous cannabinoids-which have been harnessed by humanity for medicinal, ritualistic, and recreational uses for 12,000 years. Exogenous cannabinoids, like the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, produce their effects by acting at binding sites for naturally occurring endocannabinoids. The brain’s endocannabinoid system consists of two G-protein coupled receptors, endogenous lipid ligands for these receptor targets, and several synthetic and metabolic enzymes involved in their production and degradation. Emerging evidence indicates that the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol is necessary to observe concurrent increases in DA release and motivated behavior. And the historical pharmacology literature indicates a role for cannabinoid signaling in both motivational and attentional processes. While both types of behaviors have been scrutinized under manipulation by either DA or cannabinoid agents, there is considerably less insight into prospective interactions between these two important signaling systems. This review attempts to summate the relevance of cannabinoid modulation of DA release during operant tasks designed to investigate either motivational or attentional control of behavior. We first describe how cannabinoids influence DA release and goal-directed action under a variety of reinforcement contingencies. Then we consider the role that endocannabinoids might play in switching an animal’s motivation from a goal-directed action to the search for an alternative outcome, in addition to the formation of long-term habits. Finally, dissociable features of attentional behavior using both the 5-choice serial reaction time task and the attentional set-shifting task are discussed along with their distinct influences by DA and cannabinoids. We end with discussing potential targets for further research regarding DA-cannabinoid interactions within key substrates involved in motivation and attention.
Source: ncbi 2