Psychopharmacology

, Volume 226, Issue 2, pp 401–413

Acute effects of THC on time perception in frequent and infrequent cannabis users

  • R. Andrew Sewell
  • Ashley Schnakenberg
  • Jacqueline Elander
  • Rajiv Radhakrishnan
  • Ashley Williams
  • Patrick D. Skosnik
  • Brian Pittman
  • Mohini Ranganathan
  • D. Cyril D’Souza
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-012-2915-6

Cite this article as:
Sewell, R.A., Schnakenberg, A., Elander, J. et al. Psychopharmacology (2013) 226: 401. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2915-6

Abstract

Rationale

Cannabinoids have been shown to alter time perception, but existing literature has several limitations. Few studies have included both time estimation and production tasks, few control for subvocal counting, most had small sample sizes, some did not record subjects’ cannabis use, many tested only one dose, and used either oral or inhaled administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), leading to variable pharmacokinetics, and some used whole-plant cannabis containing cannabinoids other than THC. Our study attempted to address these limitations.

Objectives

This study aims to characterize the acute effects of THC and frequent cannabis use on seconds-range time perception. THC was hypothesized to produce transient, dose-related time overestimation and underproduction. Frequent cannabis smokers were hypothesized to show blunted responses to these alterations.

Methods

IV THC was administered at doses from 0.015 to 0.05 mg/kg to 44 subjects who participated in several double-blind, randomized, counterbalanced, crossover, placebo-controlled studies. Visual time estimation and production tasks in the seconds range were presented to subjects three times on each test day.

Results

All doses induced time overestimation and underproduction. Chronic cannabis use had no effect on baseline time perception. While infrequent/nonsmokers showed temporal overestimation at medium and high doses and temporal underproduction at all doses, frequent cannabis users showed no differences. THC effects on time perception were not dose related.

Conclusions

A psychoactive dose of THC increases internal clock speed as indicated by time overestimation and underproduction. This effect is not dose related and is blunted in chronic cannabis smokers who did not otherwise have altered baseline time perception.

Keywords

CannabinoidsΔ9-tetrahydrocannabinolTime perceptionTemporal processing

Supplementary material

213_2012_2915_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (42 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 42 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Andrew Sewell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ashley Schnakenberg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jacqueline Elander
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rajiv Radhakrishnan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ashley Williams
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Patrick D. Skosnik
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brian Pittman
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mohini Ranganathan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • D. Cyril D’Souza
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.VA Connecticut Healthcare SystemWest HavenUSA
  3. 3.Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, Yale School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA