Study reveals central role of endocannabinoids in habit formation

Mouse study advances knowledge of habitual behavior pathophysiology.

Daily activities involve frequent transitions between habitual behaviors, such as driving home, and goal-directed behaviors, such as driving to a new destination on unfamiliar roads. An inability to shift between habitual and non-habitual behaviors has been implicated in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), addiction, and other disorders characterized by impaired decision-making. In a new study conducted with mice, scientists report that endocannabinoids, natural messengers in the body that are chemically similar to the active compound in marijuana, play an important role in how the brain controls this fundamental process. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the study.

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022