Honors College Thesis


Effects of Marijuana on Risky Decision-Making in Young Adult College Students Public Deposited

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  • Marijuana (MJ) is a widely used illicit substance among adolescents and young adults. Frequent MJ use has been associated with impairments in cognitive flexibility and inhibition, both of which play important roles in decision-making. However, the impact of frequent MJ on decision-making performance is mixed and not well understood. The current study examined the influence of heavy MJ use on risky decision-making in college students, 18-22 years old. Participants completed the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a measure of risky decision-making, and net IGT scores (advantageous-disadvantageous decisions) were used as a measure of optimal decision-making. A trend was found for the effect of group on net IGT scores, such that marijuana users (MJ+) had lower net IGT scores than healthy controls (HC). The final model with main effects of group and sex showed a significant effect of group on net IGT scores and a trend for the main effect of sex. MJ+ had lower net IGT scores than HC and female participants had a trend towards lower net IGT scores than male participants. These findings highlight potential differences in risky decision-making between young adult MJ users and healthy controls, but it is uncertain whether these differences are pre-existing and increase vulnerability for heavy MJ use or if they are related to the effects of heavy MJ use.
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  • Supported by Oregon Health & Science University Medical Research Foundation New Investigator Grant (Cservenka)
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