Cannabis cue-elicited craving and the reward neurocircuitry

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul 2;38(1):30-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2011.11.001. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Cue-elicited craving or the intense desire to consume a substance following exposure to a conditioned drug cue is one of the primary behavioral symptoms of substance use disorders (SUDs). While the concept of cue-elicited craving is well characterized in alcohol and other substances of abuse, only recently has it been described in cannabis. A review of the extant literature has established that cue-elicited craving is a powerful reinforcer that contributes to drug-seeking for cannabis. Further, emergent research has begun to identify the neurobiological systems and neural mechanisms associated with this behavior. What research shows is that while theories of THC's effects on the dopaminergic-reward system remain divergent, cannabis cues elicit neural activation in the brain's reward network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cannabis*
  • Motivation / drug effects*
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Reward*


  • Cannabinoids