Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015 Oct;23(5):339-50. doi: 10.1037/pha0000030. Epub 2015 Jul 13.

Marijuana's acute effects on cognitive bias for affective and marijuana cues.

Author information

Providence VA Medical Center.
Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University.
Alpert Medical School, Brown University.


Marijuana produces acute increases in positive subjective effects and decreased reactivity to negative affective stimuli, though may also acutely induce anxiety. Implicit attentional and evaluative processes may explicate marijuana's ability to acutely increase positive and negative emotions. This within-subjects study examined whether smoked marijuana with 2.7-3.0% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), relative to placebo, acutely changed attentional processing of rewarding and negative affective stimuli as well as marijuana-specific stimuli. On 2 separate days, regular marijuana users (N = 89) smoked placebo or active THC cigarette and completed subjective ratings of mood, intoxication, urge to smoke marijuana, and 2 experimental tasks: pleasantness rating (response latency and perceived pleasantness of affective and marijuana-related stimuli) and emotional Stroop (attentional bias to affective stimuli). On the pleasantness rating task, active marijuana increased response latency to negatively valenced and marijuana-related (vs. neutral) visual stimuli, beyond a general slowing of response. Active marijuana also increased pleasantness ratings of marijuana images, although to a lesser extent than placebo due to reduced marijuana urge after smoking. Overall, active marijuana did not acutely change processing of positive emotional stimuli. There was no evidence of attentional bias to affective word stimuli on the emotional Stroop task with the exception of attentional bias to positive word stimuli in the subgroup of marijuana users with cannabis dependence. Marijuana may increase allocation of attentional resources toward marijuana-specific and negatively valenced visual stimuli without altering processing of positively valenced stimuli. Marijuana-specific cues may be more attractive with higher levels of marijuana craving and less wanted with low craving levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center