Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Kent Hutchison

Second Advisor

Dr. Elaina Colunga

Third Advisor

Dr. David Youkey

Abstract

This study aimed to correlate cognitive functioning, specifically in the domains of memory and inhibition control, to number of days of cannabis use in adults (ages 20-40) and to examine whether gender, age, or average number of drinks per drinking day moderated these effects. Results from 79 participants were examined, 40 of whom had not ingested cannabis in the last 90 days (47.5% male) and 39 of whom had used cannabis in the past 90 days (48.72% male). Previous research showed conflicting results when looking between groups of adult cannabis users and non-users. Some studies showed an effect when the user group was heavy, chronic users. While other studies did not show an effect when assessing normal using adults (not clinical level chronic users). Research pertaining to adolescent cannabis use tended to have consistency when looking at cannabis use in unique ways that differed from a categorical analysis. Based on the previous research on cannabis use and executive functioning, this study looked at cannabis use as a continuous variable similar to the research on adolescents while assessing similar cognitive domains from both areas of research. A regression analysis was done in this study, controlling for age, gender and average number of drinks per drinking day, and did not show any significant associations between cannabis use frequency in the last 90 days and three different areas of executive functioning assessed. The current study was unable to associate increased levels of cannabis use to cognitive functioning, specifically in the domains of episodic memory, working memory and inhibition control. Future studies need to look at a sample of adult users specifically recruited for their cannabis use (as a continuous variable) in order to get an even distribution of cannabis use to examine how various levels of usage effects different domains of memory.

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