A cross-cultural fMRI investigation of cannabis approach bias in individuals with cannabis use disorder

Lauren Kuhns, Emese Kroon, Francesca Filbey, Janna Cousijn

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INTRODUCTION: As cannabis policies and attitudes become more permissive, it is crucial to examine how the legal and social environment influence neurocognitive mechanisms underlying cannabis use disorder (CUD). The current study aimed to assess whether cannabis approach bias, one of the mechanisms proposed to underlie CUD, differed between environments with distinct recreational cannabis policies (Amsterdam, The Netherlands (NL) and Dallas, Texas, United States of America (TX)) and whether individual differences in cannabis attitudes affect those differences.

METHODS: Individuals with CUD (NL-CUD: 64; TX-CUD: 48) and closely matched non-using controls (NL-CON: 50; TX-CON: 36) completed a cannabis approach avoidance task (CAAT) in a 3T MRI. The cannabis culture questionnaire was used to measure cannabis attitudes from three perspectives: personal, family/friends, and state/country attitudes.

RESULTS: Individuals with CUD demonstrated a significant behavioral cannabis-specific approach bias. Individuals with CUD exhibited higher cannabis approach bias-related activity in clusters including the paracingulate gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex, and frontal medial cortex compared to controls, which was no longer significant after controlling for gender. Site-related differences emerged in the association between cannabis use quantity and cannabis approach bias activity in the putamen, amygdala, hippocampus, and insula, with a positive association in the TX-CUD group and a negative association in the NL-CUD group. This was not explained by site differences in cannabis attitudes.

CONCLUSIONS: Pinpointing the underlying mechanisms of site-related differences-including, but not limited to, differences in method of administration, cannabis potency, or patterns of substance co-use-is a key challenge for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100507
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages12
JournalAddictive Behaviors Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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