nyspi.columbia.edu.2New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Department of Psychiatry, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.AbstractOBJECTIVE:

Disturbances in self-regulatory control are involved in the initiation and maintenance of addiction, including cannabis use disorder (CUD). In adults, chronic cannabis use is associated with disturbances in fronto-striatal circuits during tasks that require the engagement of self-regulatory control, including the resolution of cognitive conflict. Understudied are the behavioral and neural correlates of these processes earlier in the course of cannabis use, disentangled from effects of long-term use. The present study investigates the functioning of fronto-striatal circuits during the resolution of cognitive conflict in cannabis-using youth.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging data was acquired from 28 cannabis-using (CU) youth and 32 age-matched healthy participants (HC) during the performance of a Simon task. General linear modeling was used to compare patterns of brain activation during correct responses to conflict stimuli across groups. Psychophysiological interaction analyses were used to examine conflict-related fronto-striatal connectivity across groups. Associations of fronto-striatal activation and connectivity with cannabis use measures were explored.


Reduced conflict-related activity was detected in CU relative to HC youth in fronto-striatal regions, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), striatum, pallidum and thalamus. Fronto-striatal connectivity did not differ across groups, but negative connectivity between vmPFC and striatum was detected in both groups.


These findings are consistent with previous reports of cannabis-associated disturbances in fronto-striatal circuits in adults and point to the specific influence of cannabis on neurodevelopmental changes in youth. Future studies should examine whether fronto-striatal functioning is a reliable marker of CUD severity and potential target for circuit-based interventions.


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