Neurocognition in college-aged daily marijuana users

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 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


  • Decision making
  • Marijuana
  • Memory
  • Neurocognition
  • Planning

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