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Cannabis, Connectivity, and Coming of Age: Associations between Cannabis Use, Anterior Cingulate Cortex Connectivity, and Psychosocial Adjustment During the Transition to Adulthood

Lichenstein, Sarah (2018) Cannabis, Connectivity, and Coming of Age: Associations between Cannabis Use, Anterior Cingulate Cortex Connectivity, and Psychosocial Adjustment During the Transition to Adulthood. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Cannabis use is common among adolescents and emerging adults and is associated with significant adverse consequences for a subset of users. Rates of cannabis use peak between the ages of 18-25, yet the neurobiological consequences for neural systems that are actively developing during this time remain poorly understood. In particular, cannabis exposure may interfere with adaptive development of white matter pathways underlying connectivity of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), including the cingulum and anterior thalamic radiations (ATR), which are vital to mature cognitive, affective, and social functioning and continue to mature throughout the third decade of life. The current study examined the effects of cannabis use on white matter microstructure of the cingulum and ATR among 158 subjects enrolled in the Pitt Mother & Child Project, a prospective, longitudinal study of risk and resilience among men of low socioeconomic status. Participants were recruited in infancy, completed follow-up assessments throughout childhood and adolescence, and underwent diffusion imaging at age 20 and 22. At age 20, moderate adolescent cannabis use was associated with higher fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of the cingulum and ATR. Longitudinally, cannabis exposure predicted blunted white matter maturation in both the cingulum and ATR from age 20 to 22. Furthermore, microstructural changes in the cingulum pathway mediated the positive association between cannabis use and antisocial behavior at age 23, even when accounting for earlier antisocial behavior, suggesting that cannabis effects on ACC connectivity may impact later externalizing behavior. These results demonstrate that cannabis exposure can have important effects on neurodevelopment during late adolescence and the transition to adulthood that may impact their functioning later in development.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lichenstein, Sarahsdl30@pitt.eduSDL300000-0002-2978-991X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairForbes,
Committee MemberShaw,
Committee MemberLuna,
Committee MemberManuck,
Committee MemberSilk,
Committee MemberVerstynen,
Date: 27 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 June 2017
Approval Date: 27 September 2018
Submission Date: 26 June 2017
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 128
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cannabis, white matter, development, adolescence, transition to adulthood
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 18:53
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 18:50


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