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Differential associations of combined vs. isolated cannabis and nicotine on brain resting state networks


Concomitant cannabis and nicotine use is more prevalent than cannabis use alone; however, to date, most of the literature has focused on associations of isolated cannabis and nicotine use limiting the generalizability of existing research. To determine differential associations of concomitant use of cannabis and nicotine, isolated cannabis use and isolated nicotine use on brain network connectivity, we examined systems-level neural functioning via independent components analysis (ICA) on resting state networks (RSNs) in cannabis users (CAN, n = 53), nicotine users (NIC, n = 28), concomitant nicotine and cannabis users (NIC + CAN, n = 26), and non-users (CTRL, n = 30). Our results indicated that the CTRL group and NIC + CAN users had the greatest functional connectivity relative to CAN users and NIC users in 12 RSNs: anterior default mode network (DMN), posterior DMN, left frontal parietal network, lingual gyrus, salience network, right frontal parietal network, higher visual network, insular cortex, cuneus/precuneus, posterior cingulate gyrus/middle temporal gyrus, dorsal attention network, and basal ganglia network. Post hoc tests showed no significant differences between (1) CTRL and NIC + CAN and (2) NIC and CAN users. These findings of differential associations of isolated vs. combined nicotine and cannabis use demonstrate an interaction between cannabis and nicotine use on RSNs. These unique and combined mechanisms through which cannabis and nicotine influence cortical network functional connectivity are important to consider when evaluating the neurobiological pathways associated with cannabis and nicotine use.

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This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grants K01 DA021632, R01DA030344-01A1, and R01 DA038895).

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Correspondence to Francesca M. Filbey.

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Filbey, F.M., Gohel, S., Prashad, S. et al. Differential associations of combined vs. isolated cannabis and nicotine on brain resting state networks. Brain Struct Funct 223, 3317–3326 (2018).

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  • Addiction
  • Cannabis
  • Nicotine
  • Resting state fMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Independent component analysis