Cannabinoid modulation of functional connectivity within regions processing attentional salience.Neuropsychopharmacology 2015; 40(6):1343-52N
There is now considerable evidence to support the hypothesis that psychotic symptoms are the result of abnormal salience attribution, and that the attribution of salience is largely mediated through the prefrontal cortex, the striatum, and the hippocampus. Although these areas show differential activation under the influence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the two major derivatives of cannabis sativa, little is known about the effects of these cannabinoids on the functional connectivity between these regions. We investigated this in healthy occasional cannabis users by employing event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) following oral administration of delta-9-THC, CBD, or a placebo capsule. Employing a seed cluster-based functional connectivity analysis that involved using the average time series from each seed cluster for a whole-brain correlational analysis, we investigated the effect of drug condition on functional connectivity between the seed clusters and the rest of the brain during an oddball salience processing task. Relative to the placebo condition, delta-9-THC and CBD had opposite effects on the functional connectivity between the dorsal striatum, the prefrontal cortex, and the hippocampus. Delta-9-THC reduced fronto-striatal connectivity, which was related to its effect on task performance, whereas this connection was enhanced by CBD. Conversely, mediotemporal-prefrontal connectivity was enhanced by delta-9-THC and reduced by CBD. Our results suggest that the functional integration of brain regions involved in salience processing is differentially modulated by single doses of delta-9-THC and CBD and that this relates to the processing of salient stimuli.