Cannabis induces different cognitive changes in schizophrenic patients and in healthy controls.Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2007; 31(5):1054-63PN
It is known that 60 to 80% of schizophrenic patients show deficits in cognition. There may be an increase in these deficits as a result of additional regular use of cannabis. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of chronic cannabis consumption on the cognitive functions of schizophrenic patients and healthy control subjects after a minimum abstinence time of 28 days. The study sample consisted of 39 schizophrenics (19 cannabis-abusers and 20 non-abusers) and 39 healthy controls (18 cannabis-abusers, 21 non-abusers). In a 2x2-factorial design (Diagnostic Groups [healthy controls, schizophrenic patients]xCannabis abuse [without, with]) with diagnostic group and cannabis consumption considered between-subject factors) we tested the hypothesis that dually diagnosed patients (i.e. suffering both from schizophrenia and cannabis abuse) perform worse in neuropsychological tests than schizophrenic patients without cannabis abuse. On the whole, schizophrenic patients performed worse than healthy control subjects. Surprisingly, rather than deteriorating neuropsychological performance, regular cannabis abuse prior to the first psychotic episode improved cognition in some tests. This was even more pronounced when regular consumption started before the age of 17. On the other hand, cannabis use deteriorated test performance in healthy controls, especially in cases when regular consumption started before the age of 17. To sum up, regular cannabis abuse has a different effect on cognitive function in schizophrenic patients and healthy controls.