Altered Neural Processing to Social Exclusion in Young Adult Marijuana Users

Citation:

Gilman JM, Curran MT, Calderon V, Schuster RM, Evins EA. Altered Neural Processing to Social Exclusion in Young Adult Marijuana Users. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2016;1 (2) :152-159.

Date Published:

2016 Mar 01

Abstract:

Previous studies have reported that peer groups are one of the most important predictors of adolescent and young adult marijuana use, and yet the neural correlates of social processing in marijuana users have not yet been studied. In the current study, marijuana-using young adults (n = 20) and non-using controls (n = 22) participated in a neuroimaging social exclusion task called Cyberball, a computerized ball-tossing game in which the participant is excluded from the game after a pre-determined number of ball tosses. Controls, but not marijuana users, demonstrated significant activation in the insula, a region associated with negative emotion, when being excluded from the game. Both groups demonstrated activation of the ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC), a region associated with affective monitoring, during peer exclusion. Only the marijuana group showed a correlation between vACC activation and scores on a self-report measure of peer conformity. This study indicates that marijuana users show atypical neural processing of social exclusion, which may be either caused by, or the result of, regular marijuana use.