Maternal cannabis use is a growing public health concern, yet the long-term effects of prenatal cannabis exposure remain elusive. Our understanding of how prenatal cannabis exposure affects the brain and behavior is critically informed by preclinical animal models that capture core components of human cannabis use. To this end, our laboratory and others have recently developed more translational models of cannabis use that have potential to provide unprecedented insight into the protracted effects of cannabis exposure during sensitive developmental stages. In this presentation, I will describe recent data from our laboratory using a novel model of cannabis vapor self-administration in pregnant rat dams to investigate the long-term effects of maternal cannabis use on emotional reactivity, cognitive flexibility, and cannabis-seeking behavior. Additionally, I will present emerging data from our laboratory revealing altered excitatory inputs onto corticostriatal projection neurons in cannabis-exposed adult offspring, which could represent a mechanism by which prenatal cannabis exposure impacts reward-relevant behavior. Altogether, our data support the use of the cannabis vapor self-administration approach to investigate long-term effects of maternal cannabis use in developing offspring.
Zoom option if unable to attend in person