The Endocannabinoid System Differentially Regulates Escape Behavior in Mice.

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“Among the hardwired behaviors, fear or survival responses certainly belong to the most evolutionary conserved ones. However, higher animals possess the ability to adapt to certain environments (e.g., novel foraging grounds), and, therefore, those responses need to be plastic. Previous studies revealed a cell-type specific role of the endocannabinoid system in novelty fear, conditioned fear and active vs. passive avoidance in a shuttle box paradigm.

In this study we aim to investigate, whether knocking-out the cannabinoidreceptor type-1 (CB1) on cortical glutamatergic (Glu-CB1-/-) or GABAergic (GABA-CB1-/-) neurons differentially affects the level of behavioral inhibition, which could ultimately lead to differences in escape behavior.

Taken together, we could show that CB1 on cortical glutamatergic terminals is important for the acquisition of active avoidance, as the absence of CB1 on these neurons creates a bias toward inhibitory avoidance. This is the case in situations without punishment such as electric footshocks. On the contrary CB1 receptors on GABAergic neurons mediate the acquisition of passive avoidance, as the absence of CB1 on those neurons establishes a strong bias toward escape behavior.”

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