How Do Cannabis and Synthetic Cannabinoids Affect Neurocognitive Functions?

2022 33(4): 233-247
DOI: 10.5080/u26956
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Objective: In this study, the losses of neurocognitive function caused by
the use of cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid were studied on specific
cognitive areas (attention and working memory, executive functions,
visuospatial perception, learning and memory, planning and problem
solving, word naming) and were described in comparision with healthy
controls (control group).
Method: In this study, while 52 participants who applied to Ege
University Faculty of Medicine Department of Mental Health and
Mental Disorders Drug Addiction Treatment Center Clinic between
March 2015 – February 2017 and used cannabis at least for one year
in the past and 51 participants who used synthetic cannabinoids for
at least one year in the past were participant groups with a history of
substance use; 57 staff/student of Ege University with no history of
any substance use were participants of the control group. The research
sample consisted of 160 participants. The sample group consisted
of 160 men aged 18-35, and also 16 participants aged 36-54 were
involved in the study in order to observe neuropsychological functions
that changed with age. Stroop Test for attention area, Raven Standart
Progressive Matrices Test for executive functions area, Line Orientation
Test and Cancellation Test for visuospatial perception area, Serial Digit
Learning Test and Öktem Verbal Memory Progresses Scale for learning
and memory area, The Tower of London Test for planning and problem
solving skill, Boston Naming Test for word naming area were used.
Results: In this study, while the lowest perfomance on the ability of
focused attention, visuospatial cognition, visual scanning, orientation,
sustained attention, general ability, short-term memory, learning,
long-term memory, word naming was shown by the participants with
a history of synthetic cannabis use, the participants with a history of
cannabis use had the lowest performance on the ability of response
rate, perseveration, conceptualizing, abstract thinking, changing sets,
recognition. Participants’ history of substance use did not affect the
ability of planning and problem solving.
Conclusion: In conclusion, this study suggests that the addition
of cognitive rehabilitation programs to medical and psychosocial
improvement studies carried out in the field of addiction will increase
the success.
Keywords: Neurocognitive function; cannabis; synthetic cannabinoid