To promote efficient explorative behaviors, subjects adaptively select spatial navigational strategies based on landmarks or a cognitive map. The hippocampus works alone or in conjunction with the dorsal striatum, both representing the neuronal underpinnings of the navigational strategies organized on the basis of different systems of spatial coordinate integration. The high expression of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors in structures related to spatial learning-such as the hippocampus, dorsal striatum and amygdala-renders the endocannabinoid system a critical target to study the balance between landmark- and cognitive map-based navigational strategies. In the present study, mice treated with the CB1-inverse agonist/antagonist AM251 or vehicle were trained on a Circular Hole Board, a task that could be solved through either navigational strategy. At the end of the behavioral testing, c-Fos immunoreactivity was evaluated in specific nuclei of the hippocampus, dorsal striatum and amygdala. AM251 treatment impaired spatial learning and modified the pattern of the performed navigational strategies as well as the c-Fos immunoreactivity in the hippocampus, dorsal striatum and amygdala. The present findings shed light on the involvement of CB1 receptors as part of the selection system of the navigational strategies implemented to efficiently solve the spatial problem.
Keywords: AM251; Circular Hole Board; amygdala; dorsal striatum; endocannabinoid system; hippocampus; mice; spatial learning.