Age-related differences in the impact of cannabis use on the brain and cognition: A systematic review

Claire Gorey, Lauren Kuhns, Eleni Smaragdi, Emese Kroon, Janna Cousijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


The impact of cannabis on the adolescent compared to adult brain is of interest to researchers and society alike. From a theoretical perspective, adolescence represents a period of both risk and resilience to the harms of cannabis use and cannabis use disorders. The aim of this systematic review is to provide a critical examination of the moderating role of age on the relationship between cannabis use and cognition. To this end, we reviewed human and animal studies that formally tested whether age, adolescent or adult, changes the relationship between cannabis exposure and cognitive outcomes. While the results of this review do not offer a conclusive answer on the role of age, the novel review question, along with the inclusion of both human and animal work, has allowed for the formation of new hypotheses to be addressed in future work. First, general executive functioning seems to be more impaired in adolescent frequent cannabis users compared to adult frequent cannabis users. Second, age-effects may be most prominent among very heavy and dependent users. Third, craving and inhibitory control may not decrease as much post-intoxication in adolescents compared to adults. Lastly, adolescents' vulnerability to reduced learning following cannabis use may not persist after sustained abstinence. If these hypotheses prove correct, it could lead to important developments in policy and prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-58
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'Age-related differences in the impact of cannabis use on the brain and cognition: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this