Cannabinoids Reveal Separate Controls for Whisking Amplitude and Timing in Rats Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Whisking is controlled by multiple, possibly functionally segregated, motor sensory-motor loops. While testing for effects of endocannabinoids on whisking, we uncovered the first known functional segregation of channels controlling whisking amplitude and timing. Channels controlling amplitude, but not timing, were modulated by cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1R). Systemic administration of CB1R agonist Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) reduced whisking spectral power across all tested doses (1.25–5 mg/kg), whereas whisking frequency was affected at only very high doses (5 mg/kg). Concomitantly, whisking amplitude and velocity were significantly reduced in a dose-dependent manner (25–43 and 26–50%, respectively), whereas cycle duration and bilateral synchrony were hardly affected (3–16 and 3–9%, respectively). Preadministration of CB1R antagonist SR141716A blocked Δ9-THC–induced kinematic alterations of whisking, and when administered alone, increased whisking amplitude and velocity but affected neither cycle duration nor synchrony. These findings indicate that whisking amplitude and timing are controlled by separate channels and that endocannabinoids modulate amplitude control channels.


  • Pietr, Maciej Dominik
  • Knutsen, Per Magne
  • Shore, David I
  • Ahissar, Ehud
  • Vogel, Zvi

publication date

  • November 2010