Functional MRI evidence for inefficient attentional control in adolescent chronic cannabis abuse

Yalchin Abdullaev, Michael I. Posner, Ray Nunnally, Thomas J. Dishion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Control of attention is a key mechanism underlying behavior regulation. In this study we detail the aspects of attention that covary with the chronic use of cannabis throughout adolescence. We compared performance and brain activation differences in tasks involving attention between young adults with a history of chronic cannabis use during adolescence and matched non-user control subjects. Two tasks were used to activate attention networks: the Attention Network Task (ANT) and the use generation task. In the ANT, chronic users (N=14) differed from controls (N=14) in showing poorer performance (longer reaction time and more errors) on tasks requiring processing of incongruent stimuli reflecting the executive attention network, but not in networks related to alerting or orienting components of attention. Functional MRI of brain activity showed stronger activation within the right prefrontal cortex in chronic users compared to the control group specifically on ANT trials requiring executive attention. The use generation task also revealed significantly stronger activation of the same right prefrontal area in users compared to controls. These results suggest that chronic cannabis users have less efficient executive attention in conflict resolution tasks, demanding more activation in the right prefrontal areas to resolve conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Attention
  • Cannabis
  • Conflict resolution
  • Functional MRI
  • Right prefrontal cortex
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional MRI evidence for inefficient attentional control in adolescent chronic cannabis abuse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this