The effects of synthetic cannabinoids on executive function
- 1.2k Downloads
Background and aims
There is a growing use of novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) including synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoid products have effects similar to those of natural cannabis but the new synthetic cannabinoids are more potent and dangerous and their use has resulted in various adverse effects. The purpose of the study was to assess whether persistent use of synthetic cannabinoids is associating with impairments of executive function in chronic users.
A total of 38 synthetic cannabinoids users, 43 recreational cannabis users, and 41 non-user subjects were studied in two centers in Hungary and Israel. Computerized cognitive function tests, the classical Stroop word-color task, n-back task, and a free-recall memory task were used.
Synthetic cannabinoid users performed significantly worse than both recreational and non-cannabis users on the n-back task (less accuracy), the Stroop task (overall slow responses and less accuracy), and the long-term memory task (less word recall). Additionally, they have also shown higher ratings of depression and anxiety compared with both recreational and non-users groups.
This study showed impairment of executive function in synthetic cannabinoid users compared with recreational users of cannabis and non-users. This may have major implications for our understanding of the long-term consequences of synthetic cannabinoid based drugs.
KeywordsSynthetic cannabinoids Cannabis Working memory Control inhibition Long-term memory
This study was partly funded by a grant from the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel to Prof. Weinstein. The study was published as an M.A. thesis for Koby Cohen. We would like to thank the managers of the treatment centers of the Ministry of Health in Israel (Ashdod, Lifta, Haderech, Tamra, and Malcishua) and in Hungary for allowing access to patients. The study was presented at the fourth meeting on Novel Psychoactive Substances in Budapest 31 March 2016 and the 78th meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in Palms Springs CA USA in 11–16 June 2016.
- Basavarajappa BS, Subbanna S (2014) CB1 receptor-mediated signaling underlies the hippocampal synaptic, learning, and memory deficits following treatment with JWH-081, a new component of spice/K2 preparations. Hippocampus 24(2):178–88Google Scholar
- Fattore L, Fratta W (2011) Beyond THC: the new generation of cannabinoid designer drugs. Front Behav Neurosci 5(60):1–12Google Scholar
- Pistis M, Ferraro L, Pira L, Flore G, Tanganelli S, Gessa GL, Devoto P (2002) Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol decreases extracellular GABA and increases extracellular glutamate and dopamine levels in the rat prefrontal cortex: an in vivo microdialysis study. Brain Res 948(1):155–158CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Renard J, Krebs MO, Le Pen G, & Jay, TM (2014) Long-term consequences of adolescent cannabinoid exposure in adult psychopathology. Frontiers in Neuroscience 8:361. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2014.00361
- Sipos K, Sipos M (1983) The development and validation of the Hungarian form of the state-trait anxiety inventory. Series in Clinical & Community Psychology: Stress & Anxiety 2:27–39Google Scholar
- Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL, Lushene R, Vagg PR, Jacobs GA (1983) Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo AltoGoogle Scholar