Endocannabinoid signalling in reward and addiction

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Oct;16(10):579-94. doi: 10.1038/nrn4004. Epub 2015 Sep 16.


Brain endocannabinoid (eCB) signalling influences the motivation for natural rewards (such as palatable food, sexual activity and social interaction) and modulates the rewarding effects of addictive drugs. Pathological forms of natural and drug-induced reward are associated with dysregulated eCB signalling that may derive from pre-existing genetic factors or from prolonged drug exposure. Impaired eCB signalling contributes to dysregulated synaptic plasticity, increased stress responsivity, negative emotional states and cravings that propel addiction. Understanding the contributions of eCB disruptions to behavioural and physiological traits provides insight into the eCB influence on addiction vulnerability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Endocannabinoids / genetics
  • Endocannabinoids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / physiopathology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Reward*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Endocannabinoids