Neurocognition in college-aged daily marijuana users

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68 Scopus citations


Background: Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States. Use, particularly when it occurs early, has been associated with cognitive impairments in executive functioning, learning, and memory. Method: This study comprehensively measured cognitive ability as well as comorbid psychopathology and substance use history to determine the neurocognitive profile associated with young adult marijuana use. College-aged marijuana users who initiated use prior to age 17 (n = 35) were compared to demographically matched controls (n = 35). Results: Marijuana users were high functioning, demonstrating comparable IQs to controls and relatively better processing speed. Marijuana users demonstrated relative cognitive impairments in verbal memory, spatial working memory, spatial planning, and motivated decision making. Comorbid use of alcohol, which was heavier in marijuana users, was unexpectedly found to be associated with better performance in some of these areas. Conclusions: This study provides additional evidence of neurocognitive impairment in the context of adolescent and young adult marijuana use. Findings are discussed in relation to marijuanas effects on intrinsic motivation and discrete aspects of cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-398
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse [grant number R01DA017843] awarded to M. Luciana; the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [grant number R01AA020033] awarded to M. Luciana; and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Neurobehavioral Development. M. P. Becker was supported by the Pearson Assessment Fellowship in Clinical Psychology awarded by the Pearson Clinical Assessment Division. Disclosure: Role of funding source: Nothing declared. Funding sources had no involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication. Conflict of interest: No conflict declared by any authors.


  • Decision making
  • Marijuana
  • Memory
  • Neurocognition
  • Planning


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