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Schizophr Res. 2010 Dec;124(1-3):142-51. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2010.08.017. Epub 2010 Sep 9.

Cannabis use and cognitive functioning in first-episode schizophrenia patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, CIBERSAM, University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla, IFIMAV, Santander, Spain.


Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the world. In healthy individuals cannabis is associated with cognitive impairments. Research into the effect of cannabis use in schizophrenia has yielded contradictory findings. Our aim has been to explore the correlates of cannabis use in cognitive and psychopathological features, both cross-sectional and longitudinally, in early phases of schizophrenia. 104 patients with a first episode of non-affective psychosis and 37 healthy controls were studied. Patients were classified according to their use of cannabis prior to the onset of the illness (47 users vs. 57 non-users). They were cross-sectionally and longitudinally studied and compared on clinical and cognitive variables and also on their level of premorbid adjustment. Cannabis user patients had better attention and executive functions than non-cannabis user patients at baseline and after 1 year of treatment. Both groups showed similar improvement in their cognitive functioning during the 1-year follow-up period. We also found that users had a better social premorbid adjustment, particularly during the early periods of life. The amount of cannabis consumed and the length of time of consumption did not significantly relate to cognitive performance. The use of cannabis does not seem to be associated with a negative effect on cognition in a representative sample of first-episode schizophrenia patients. Cannabis user patients appear to comprise a subgroup of patients with a better premorbid adjustment and premorbid frontal cognitive functions.

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