Endocannabinoid Signaling in the Control of Social Behavior

Many mammalian species, including humans, exhibit social behavior and form complex social groups. Mechanistic studies in animal models have revealed important roles for the endocannabinoid signaling system, comprising G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous lipid-derived agonists, in the control of neural processes that underpin social anxiety and social reward, two key aspects of social behavior. An emergent insight from these studies is that endocannabinoid signaling in specific circuits of the brain is context dependent and selectively recruited. These insights open new vistas on the neural basis of social behavior and social impairment.

Keywords: 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol; anandamide; autism spectrum disorder; schizophrenia; social anxiety; social reward.