Chronic effects of cannabis use on the human reward system: An fMRI study

Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Section Brain Function and Plasticity, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 5.4). 03/2010; 20(3):153-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2009.11.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cannabis is one of the most used drugs of abuse. It affects the brain reward system in animals, and has proven rewarding and addictive potential in humans. We used functional MRI to measure brain activity during reward anticipation in a monetary reward task. Long-term cannabis users were compared to healthy controls. An additional control group consisting of nicotine users was included. Cannabis users showed attenuated brain activity during reward anticipation in the nucleus accumbens compared to non-smoking controls, but not compared to smoking controls. Cannabis users showed decreased reward anticipation activity in the caudate nucleus, compared to both non-smoking and smoking controls. These data suggest that nicotine may be responsible for attenuated reward anticipation activity in the accumbens, but that differences in the caudate are associated with the use of cannabis. Our findings imply that chronic cannabis use as well as nicotine, may cause an altered brain response to rewarding stimuli.

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    • "For optimal reward cues, functional MRI data showed significant brain activation for high (vs. low) reward cues (see also Van Hell et al. 2010), especially in the ventral striatum and ventral pallidum, which are output channels of the striatal dopamine system (Heimer and Van Hoesen 2006). However, although there was a significant increase in the effort people invested in the task for high versus low reward cues, no significant differences in brain activation were found for suboptimal reward cues. "
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    • "The main effects of task were in line with those reported in earlier work. Activation during Reward Anticipation (contrast Anticipation Reward versus Anticipation Neutral ) was found in the ventral striatum, putamen, thalamus, anterior cingulate cortex, mid-cingulate cortex, insula and several frontal, temporal and parietal areas (Bjork et al., 2010, 2004; Carter et al., 2009; Dillon et al., 2008; Ernst et al., 2004; Figee et al., 2011; Galvan et al., 2005; Hermans et al., 2010; Hommer et al., 2003; Knutson et al., 2001a,b; Knutson et al., 2003; Ossewaarde et al., 2011; Van Hell et al., 2010). Reward Outcome activity (contrast Feedback Reward versus Feedback Correct Neutral) was mainly found in the orbitofrontal cortex, caudate, posterior cingulate gyrus and bilateral parahippocampal gyri. "
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