Investigating the residual effects of chronic cannabis use and abstinence on verbal and visuospatial learning

Journal article


Lorenzetti, Valentina, Takagi, Michael, van Dalen, Yvonne, Yücel, Murat and Solowij, Nadia. (2021). Investigating the residual effects of chronic cannabis use and abstinence on verbal and visuospatial learning. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 12, p. Article 663701. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.663701
AuthorsLorenzetti, Valentina, Takagi, Michael, van Dalen, Yvonne, Yücel, Murat and Solowij, Nadia
Abstract

Rationale: Regular cannabis users have been shown to differ from non-using controls in learning performance. It is unclear if these differences are specific to distinct domains of learning (verbal, visuospatial), exacerbate with extent of cannabis exposure and dissipate with sustained abstinence.

Objective: This study examines different domains of learning (verbal, visuospatial) in current and abstaining cannabis users, and the role of chronicity of use.

Methods: In a cross-sectional design, we examined 127 psychiatrically healthy participants (65 female) with mean aged of 34 years. Of these, 69 individuals were current regular cannabis users (mean 15 years use), 12 were former cannabis users abstinent for ~2.5 yrs (after a mean of 16 years use), and 46 were non-cannabis using controls. Groups were compared on verbal learning performance assessed via the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT-II) and for visuospatial learning measured with the Brown Location Test (BLT). We explored the association between CVLT/BLT performance and cannabis use levels in current and former users.

Results: Current cannabis use compared to non-use was associated with worse performance on select aspects of verbal learning (Long Delay Cued Recall) and of visuospatial learning (Retroactive Interference and LD Rotated Recall). Prolonged abstinence was associated with altered verbal learning but intact visuospatial learning. There were non-significant correlations between distinct cannabis use measures, age and learning in both current and former users.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest cannabis use status (current use, former use) affects different domains of learning (verbal and visuospatial) in a distinct fashion. These findings might be accounted for in the design of cognitive interventions aimed to support abstinence in cannabis users.

Keywordscannabis; marijuana; verbal learning and memory; visuospatial learning; abstinence; tetrahydrocannabinol; California Verbal Learning Test—Second Edition; Brown learning test
Year2021
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Journal citation12, p. Article 663701
PublisherFrontiers Research Foundation
ISSN1664-0640
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.663701
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85109017845
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-12
FunderNational Health and Medical Research Council
Australian Research Council
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted10 May 2021
Deposited02 Sep 2021
ARC Funded ResearchThis output has been funded, wholly or partially, under the Australian Research Council Act 2001
Grant IDNHMRC/459111
NHMRC/1117188
ARC/FT110100752
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Lorenzetti, Valentina, Solowij, Nadia, Whittle, Sarah, Fornito, Alex, Lubman, Dan I., Pantelis, Christos and Yücel, Murat. (2015). Gross morphological brain changes with chronic, heavy cannabis use. British Journal of Psychiatry. 206(1), pp. 77 - 78. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.114.151407
Cortico-limbic network abnormalities in individuals with current and past major depressive disorder
Klauser, Paul, Fornito, Alex, Lorenzetti, Valentina, Davey, Christopher G., Dwyer, Dominic B., Allen, Nicholas B. and Yücel, Murat. (2015). Cortico-limbic network abnormalities in individuals with current and past major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders. 173, pp. 45 - 52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.041
The association between regular cannabis exposure and alterations of human brain morphology: An updated review of the literature
Lorenzetti, Valentina, Solowij, Nadia, Fornito, Alex, Lubman, Dan Ian and Yücel, Murat. (2014). The association between regular cannabis exposure and alterations of human brain morphology: An updated review of the literature. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 20(13), pp. 2138 - 2167. https://doi.org/10.2174/13816128113199990435
The neural cascade of olfactory processing: A combined fMRI-EEG study
Masaoka, Yuri, Harding, Ian H., Koiwa, Nobuyoshi, Yoshida, Masaki, Harrison, Ben J., Lorenzetti, Valentina, Ida, Masahiro, Izumizaki, Masahiko, Pantelis, Christos and Homma, Ikuo. (2014). The neural cascade of olfactory processing: A combined fMRI-EEG study. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. 204, pp. 71 - 77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resp.2014.06.008
Human amygdala volume is predicted by common DNA variation in the stathmin and serotonin transporter genes
Stjepanović, D., Lorenzetti, Valentina, Yücel, Murat, Hawi, Z. and Bellgrove, M. A.. (2013). Human amygdala volume is predicted by common DNA variation in the stathmin and serotonin transporter genes. Translational Psychiatry. 3(7), pp. 1 - 7. https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2013.41
Alteration to hippocampal shape in cannabis users with and without schizophrenia
Solowij, Nadia, Walterfang, Mark, Lubman, Dan I., Whittle, Sarah, Lorenzetti, Valentina, Styner, Martin, Velakoulis, Dennis, Pantelis, Christos and Yucel, Murat. (2013). Alteration to hippocampal shape in cannabis users with and without schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research. 143(1), pp. 179 - 184. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2012.10.040