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Neuropsychological consequences of regular marijuana use: a twin study

  • M. J. LYONS (a1), J. L. BAR (a1), M. S. PANIZZON (a1), R. TOOMEY (a1), S. EISEN (a1), H. XIAN (a1) and M. T. TSUANG (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291704002260
  • Published online: 01 October 2004
Abstract

Background. Results of previous research examining long-term residual effects of marijuana use on cognition are conflicting. A major methodological limitation of prior studies is the inability to determine whether differences between users and non-users are due to differences in genetic vulnerability preceding drug use or due to the effects of the drug.

Method. Fifty-four monozygotic male twin pairs, discordant for regular marijuana use in which neither twin used any other illicit drug regularly, were recruited from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. A minimum of 1 year had passed since the marijuana-using twins had last used the drug, and a mean of almost 20 years had passed since the last time marijuana had been used regularly. Twins were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery to assess general intelligence, executive functioning, attention, memory and motor skills. Differences in performance between marijuana-using twins and their non-using co-twins were compared using a multivariate analysis of specific cognitive domains and univariate analyses of individual test scores. Dose–response relationships were explored within the marijuana-using group.

Results. Marijuana-using twins significantly differed from their non-using co-twins on the general intelligence domain; however, within that domain only the performance of the block design subtest of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Revised reached a level of statistical significance.

Conclusions. Out of the numerous measures that were administered, only one significant difference was noted between marijuana-using twins and their non-using co-twins on cognitive functioning. The results indicate an absence of marked long-term residual effects of marijuana use on cognitive abilities.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Michael J. Lyons, Psychology Department, Boston University, 64 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA. (Email: mlyons@bu.edu)
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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