Cannabis cue reactivity and craving among never, infrequent and heavy cannabis users

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Apr;39(5):1214-21. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.324. Epub 2013 Nov 22.


Substance cue reactivity is theorized as having a significant role in addiction processes, promoting compulsive patterns of drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior. However, research extending this phenomenon to cannabis has been limited. To that end, the goal of the current work was to examine the relationship between cannabis cue reactivity and craving in a sample of 353 participants varying in self-reported cannabis use. Participants completed a visual oddball task whereby neutral, exercise, and cannabis cue images were presented, and a neutral auditory oddball task while event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Consistent with past research, greater cannabis use was associated with greater reactivity to cannabis images, as reflected in the P300 component of the ERP, but not to neutral auditory oddball cues. The latter indicates the specificity of cue reactivity differences as a function of substance-related cues and not generalized cue reactivity. Additionally, cannabis cue reactivity was significantly related to self-reported cannabis craving as well as problems associated with cannabis use. Implications for cannabis use and addiction more generally are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cannabis
  • Cues*
  • Drug-Seeking Behavior / physiology
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / physiopathology*
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception / physiology*