The differential relationship between cocaine use and marijuana use on decision-making performance over repeat testing with the Iowa Gambling Task

Antonio Verdejo-Garcia, Amy Benbrook, Frank Funderburk, Paula David, Jean-Lud Cadet, Karen I Bolla
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2007 September 6, 90 (1): 2-11
Decision-making deficits are a robust cognitive correlate of substance abuse, but few studies have addressed the long-term differential associations of cocaine use and marijuana (MJ) use on decision-making. This study utilized the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a widely used measure of decision-making, to investigate the relationship between cocaine and MJ use and IGT learning. We analyzed between and within group differences across two consecutive testing sessions in abstinent users of either MJ or cocaine. We assessed long-term correlates of the use of these drugs by evaluating users after 25 days of enforced abstinence. Results showed that both cocaine users and MJ users performed worse than controls on the total IGT net score. All groups showed learning between Session 1 and Session 2, but the cocaine users showed the smallest increase in performance. The pattern of learning from the beginning to the end (block x block) of the IGT (Session 2) was different for the drug groups, with the cocaine group showing more learning than the MJ group. Dose-related measures of cocaine use (g/week) and MJ use (joints/week) predicted IGT performance (the heavier the drug use the lower the performance). Differential correlates of cocaine use and MJ use on decision-making learning may have important implications for the development of novel treatment interventions.

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