Researchers at Center for BrainHealth, part of The University of Texas at Dallas, recently examined underlying brain networks in long-term cannabis users to identify patterns of brain connectivity when the users crave or have a desire to consume cannabis. While regional brain activation and static connectivity in response to cravings have been studied before, fluctuations in brain network connectivity had not yet been examined in cannabis users. The findings from this study will help support the development of better treatment strategies for cannabis dependence.
The study was published in the journal of Human Brain Mapping (May 2020) by researchers Francesca Filbey, PhD, professor and director of cognitive neuroscience research of addictive disorders at Center for BrainHealth, Hye Bin Yoo, PhD and Blake Edward Moya.
The findings add to the understanding that regions of the brain do not perform in isolation, but through connectivity of multiple brain networks that signal to each other depending on need and state. It further identifies that brain connectivity during craving is not static, but rather, has fluctuations in connection patterns between reward-related regions such as the central executive network and the nucleus accumbens, areas rich in dopamine. It also highlighted the need to better understand the impact of these dynamic patterns as it relates to cannabis use. Participants were examined with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner for these findings.