Functional magnetic resonance brain imaging of executive cognitive performance in young first-episode schizophrenia patients and age-matched long-term cannabis users

Cohen, Martin, Johnston, Patrick, Ehlkes, Tim, Fulham, Ross, Ward, Philip, Thienel, Renate, Rasser, Paul, Carr, Vaughan, Baker, Amanda, & Scall, Ulrich (2015) Functional magnetic resonance brain imaging of executive cognitive performance in young first-episode schizophrenia patients and age-matched long-term cannabis users. Neurology, Psychiatry and Brain Research, 21(1), pp. 51-63.

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Converging evidence from epidemiological, clinical and neuropsychological research suggests a link between cannabis use and increased risk of psychosis. Long-term cannabis use has also been related to deficit-like “negative” symptoms and cognitive impairment that resemble some of the clinical and cognitive features of schizophrenia. The current functional brain imaging study investigated the impact of a history of heavy cannabis use on impaired executive function in first-episode schizophrenia patients. Whilst performing the Tower of London task in a magnetic resonance imaging scanner, event-related blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) brain activation was compared between four age and gender-matched groups: 12 first-episode schizophrenia patients; 17 long-term cannabis users; seven cannabis using first-episode schizophrenia patients; and 17 healthy control subjects. BOLD activation was assessed as a function of increasing task difficulty within and between groups as well as the main effects of cannabis use and the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Cannabis users and non-drug using first-episode schizophrenia patients exhibited equivalently reduced dorsolateral prefrontal activation in response to task difficulty. A trend towards additional prefrontal and left superior parietal cortical activation deficits was observed in cannabis-using first-episode schizophrenia patients while a history of cannabis use accounted for increased activation in the visual cortex. Cannabis users and schizophrenia patients fail to adequately activate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thus pointing to a common working memory impairment which is particularly evident in cannabis-using first-episode schizophrenia patients. A history of heavy cannabis use, on the other hand, accounted for increased primary visual processing, suggesting compensatory imagery processing of the task.

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ID Code: 78411
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1016/j.npbr.2014.09.002
ISSN: 0941-9500
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Psychiatry (incl. Psychotherapy) (110319)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology Psychopharmacology Physiological Psychology) (170101)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Elsevier GmbH.
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2014 22:14
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2015 06:05

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