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Intrinsic Frontolimbic Connectivity and Mood Symptoms in Young Adult Cannabis Users


Intrinsic Frontolimbic Connectivity and Mood Symptoms in Young Adult Cannabis Users

Skyler Shollenbarger et al. Front Public Health.


Objective: The endocannbinoid system and cannabis exposure has been implicated in emotional processing. The current study examined whether regular cannabis users demonstrated abnormal intrinsic (a.k.a. resting state) frontolimbic connectivity compared to non-users. A secondary aim examined the relationship between cannabis group connectivity differences and self-reported mood and affect symptoms. Method: Participants included 79 cannabis-using and 80 non-using control emerging adults (ages of 18-30), balanced for gender, reading ability, and age. Standard multiple regressions were used to predict if cannabis group status was associated with frontolimbic connectivity after controlling for site, past month alcohol and nicotine use, and days of abstinence from cannabis. Results: After controlling for research site, past month alcohol and nicotine use, and days of abstinence from cannabis, cannabis users demonstrated significantly greater connectivity between left rACC and the following: right rACC (p = 0.001; corrected p = 0.05; f 2 = 0.55), left amygdala (p = 0.03; corrected p = 0.47; f 2 = 0.17), and left insula (p = 0.03; corrected p = 0.47; f 2 = 0.16). Among cannabis users, greater bilateral rACC connectivity was significantly associated with greater subthreshold depressive symptoms (p = 0.02). Conclusions: Cannabis using young adults demonstrated greater connectivity within frontolimbic regions compared to controls. In cannabis users, greater bilateral rACC intrinsic connectivity was associated with greater levels of subthreshold depression symptoms. Current findings suggest that regular cannabis use during adolescence is associated with abnormal frontolimbic connectivity, especially in cognitive control and emotion regulation regions.

Keywords: adolescents; affective symptoms; cannabis; connectivity analysis; depressive symptoms; resting state fMRI; young adults.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Region displaying group differences: bilateral rostral anterior cingulate.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Scatterplot between total depression symptoms and bilateral rAcc connectivity (log transformed) in cannabis users.

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