Facebook pixelfMRI Study of Neural Sensitization to Hedonic Stimuli in Long-Term, Daily Cannabis Users
Go to home page

fMRI Study of Neural Sensitization to Hedonic Stimuli in Long-Term, Daily Cannabis Users

An abstract black and white line illustration.

Human Brain Mapping

Francesca M. Filbey, Joseph Dunlop, Ariel Ketcherside, Jessica Baine, Tyler Rhinehardt, Brittany Kuhn, Samuel DeWitt and Talha Alvi

Read Full Article

Overview

This study expands upon prior work exploring the brain sensitivity to cannabis cues between long-term and nonusers. Participants were presented cannabis-related stimuli, naturally rewarding stimuli (i.e., fruit), or a neutral stimulus, while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The results revealed increased activation in the reward networks when cannabis users were shown the cannabis cues. This activation was greater than the normal activation produced by the naturally rewarding stimuli. Additionally, the level of reward activation in the users was significantly correlated to reported cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and marijuana-related problems. The disruption to the reward network leads to less reward activation to inherently and naturally rewarding stimuli (such as food or sex) and greater activation to the abused substance – cannabis.
fMRI demonstrated the reward network activation of cannabis cues relative to the natural reward (A) and neutral reward (B) in users compared to non-users.

fMRI demonstrated the reward network activation of cannabis cues relative to the natural reward (A) and neutral reward (B) in users compared to nonusers.

Share this article


Francesca Filbey, PhD

Bert Moore Endowed Chair and Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Director, Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory of Addictive Disorders


Related Information

The Neuroscience of Addiction

This book addresses the growing need for accessible information on the science behind addiction. As the stigma surrounding addiction persists, new research focused on the impact of substance use on the brain is vital to public health.

Weeding Through Marijuana's Effects on the Brain

Determining causality in research takes time, but recent research provides valuable insight into possible effects of marijuana use on brain structure and function.

Females Exhibit More Intense Subjective Cannabis Cravings Than Males

Researchers found preliminary evidence that ovarian hormones may modulate the differential response in women and may be related to different levels of estrogen.

Study Shows Long-Term Marijuana Use Changes Brain’s Reward Circuit

Chronic marijuana use disrupts the brain’s natural reward processes, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.