Cannabis Abstinence During Treatment and One-Year Follow-Up: Relationship to Neural Activity in Men

Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 7.05). 04/2014; 39(10). DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.82
Source: PubMed


Cannabis is among the most frequently-abused substances in the United States. Cognitive control is a contributory factor in the maintenance of substance use disorders and may relate to treatment response. Therefore, we assessed whether cognitive-control-related neural activity prior to treatment differs between treatment-seeking cannabis-dependent and healthy individuals and relates to cannabis-abstinence measures during treatment and one-year follow-up. Cannabis-dependent males (N=20) completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) cognitive-control (Stroop) task prior to a 12-week randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioral therapy and/or contingency management. A healthy-comparison group (N=20) also completed the fMRI task. Cannabis-use was assessed by urine toxicology and self-report during treatment, and by self-report across a 1-year follow-up period (N=18). The cannabis-dependent group displayed diminished Stroop-related neural activity relative to the healthy-comparison group in multiple regions including those strongly implicated in cognitive control and addiction-related processes (e.g. dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum). The groups did not significantly differ in response times (cannabis-dependent N=12; healthy-comparison N=14). Within the cannabis-dependent group, greater Stroop-related activity in regions including the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex was associated with less cannabis use during treatment. Greater activity in regions including the ventral striatum was associated with less cannabis use during one-year post-treatment follow-up. These data suggest that lower cognitive-control-related neural activity in classic "control" regions (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate) and classic "salience/reward/learning" regions (e.g., ventral striatum) differentiates cannabis-dependent from healthy individuals and relates to less abstinence within-treatment and during long-term follow-up. Clinically, results suggest that treatment development efforts that focus on enhancing cognitive control in addition to abstinence may improve treatment outcomes in cannabis dependence.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article peview online, 07 April 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.82.

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Available from: Kathleen Carroll, Nov 13, 2015
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    • "The relationship between cognitive control and cannabis use is thought to be bidirectional: Chronic cannabis use may impair cognitive control, but relative poor levels of cognitive control may also predispose individuals to CUDs (Cousijn et al., 2013b, 2014a; Crean et al., 2011). A recent study in adult treatment seeking cannabis users compared to healthy matched controls showed that lower brain activations during the Stroop task in brain areas involved in the regulation of behaviour (anterior cingulate cortex) and reward processing (ventral striatum) predicted more cannabis use one year later (Kober et al., 2014). Moreover, functioning of the brain network involved in cognitive control during a working memory task predicted cannabis use six months later in non-treatment seeking adult heavy cannabis users (Cousijn et al., 2014a,b). "
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