Brain imaging study of the acute effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on attention and motor coordination in regular users of marijuana

Abstract

Procedure

Twelve regular users of marijuana underwent two positron emission tomography (PET) scans using [18F] Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), one while subject to the effects of 17 mg THC, the other without THC. In both sessions, a virtual reality maze task was performed during the FDG uptake period.

Results

When subject to the effects of 17 mg THC, regular marijuana smokers hit the walls more often on the virtual maze task than without THC. Compared to results without THC, 17 mg THC increased brain metabolism during task performance in areas that are associated with motor coordination and attention in the middle and medial frontal cortices and anterior cingulate, and reduced metabolism in areas that are related to visual integration of motion in the occipital lobes.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that in regular marijuana users, the immediate effects of marijuana may impact on cognitive–motor skills and brain mechanisms that modulate coordinated movement and driving.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Israeli Anti Drug Authority. A preliminary version of this work was presented at the College of Problems of Drug Dependence 67th annual scientific meeting in Orlando Florida, June, 2005 and the College of Problems of Drug Dependence 68th annual scientific meeting in Scottsdale Arizona, June, 2006. We would like to thank the technicians of Dept. of Nuclear Medicine, Sourasky Medical Center in particular Mr. David Massuda, Dr. Adi Ronen from Ben Gurion University, the Association for Public Health, Dr. Avi Peled from the Shaar Menashe Mental Hospital in Israel. Dr. Weinstein is now supported by the Sacta Rashi Foundation, Paris, France, The Israeli Anti-drug authority and the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel.

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Weinstein, A., Brickner, O., Lerman, H. et al. Brain imaging study of the acute effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on attention and motor coordination in regular users of marijuana. Psychopharmacology 196, 119–131 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-007-0940-7

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Keywords

  • Marijuana
  • THC
  • Attention
  • Motor skills
  • PET