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The Role of Cannabinoid Signaling in Emotional Processing: Implications for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

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Emerging evidence from basic and clinical research implicates a critical role for cannabinoid signaling in the processing of emotionally salient information. Furthermore, a plethora of evidence now exists demonstrating that disturbances in the brains cannabinoid signaling pathways may underlie various ...

Emerging evidence from basic and clinical research implicates a critical role for cannabinoid signaling in the processing of emotionally salient information. Furthermore, a plethora of evidence now exists demonstrating that disturbances in the brains cannabinoid signaling pathways may underlie various neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cannabinoids functionally interact with several neural circuits and neurotransmitter systems responsible for emotional processing. These interconnected systems, including the frontal cortex, amygdala and mesocorticolimbic pathways, are known to be functionally disturbed in all of these syndromes. This Review Edition will feature recent and emerging evidence demonstrating how exposure to cannabinoids, either during critical neurodevelopmental windows or during adulthood, may ultimately underlie the neuropsychopathological features of these complex disorders through interactions with these emotional processing centres. These review articles will span the neuronal, molecular, behavioural and imaging levels of analysis, from basic neuroscience research in animal models, to functional imaging studies in human subjects. Throughout, the shared neuroanatomical and neurochemical pathways, and how such substrates are modulated by cannabinoid signaling will be highlighted, pointing to a potentially common action of cannabinoid exposure upon these systems that may ultimately lead to the development or persistence of these disorders.


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