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Rev Neurol. 2010 Oct 1;51(7):412-26.

[Neuropsychological performance in cocaine addiction: a critical review].

[Article in Spanish]

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  • 1Fundacion Argibide, Pamplona, España.



Chronic use of cocaine has been associated with a wide range of neuropsychological deficits affecting attention, memory, learning and executive functions. However, it has not been found a unique profile of impairment associated with cocaine addiction.


To review the studies about neurocognitive performance in cocaine addicted patients, with special attention to the research method used.


A great diversity in the research methodology of cognitive deficits associated with cocaine addiction has been used. These differences make difficult to compare results and obtain a clear profile of neuropsychological deficits. Even though, most of studies find neuropsychological deficits (mainly of medium size) associated with cocaine addiction. These problems are usually related to attention, verbal and visual memory and executive functions (working memory, mental flexibility, verbal fluency, inhibition and decision making). Moreover, in some studies a dissociated profile of cognitive performance has been found.


Chronic use of cocaine is associated with worse cognitive performance. Therefore, the cognitive assessment of cocaine addicted patients can improve the understanding of the nature of the difficulties that these patients exhibit in everyday life and also can help to guide the treatment. Probably, the presence of subtle cognitive changes has important consequences on the behaviour of these patients. However, neuropsychological performance is not usually assessed in the assessment guidelines of this disorder. Therefore, it is proposed to include a neuropsychological assessment for initial assessment of cocaine addicted patients, as well as to tailor treatment to the found deficit.

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