The goal of the Center is to investigate the neurobiology of cannabis dependence by testing specific hypotheses in young adults (Project #1 "Clinical and Neurobiological Effects of Cannabis Dependence in Young Adults"), adolescent humans (Project #2 "Neural Effects of Chronic Cannabis Exposure in Human Adolescents"), adolescent and young adult rhesus monkeys (Project #3 "Consequences of Chronic Exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in Monkeys") and adolescent and adult rats (Project #4 "Cognitive and Neurochemical Effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in Rats"). The studies will examine behavioral, physiological and affective consequences of initial cannabis experience, chronic exposure and withdrawal/abstinence since all of these transition stages represent valid clinical treatment targets.

Clinical research in humans is essential because this is the ultimate public health concern and nonhuman models can never completely reflect the human condition. Nevertheless it can be difficult to identify a causal relationship between drug use and subsequent neuropsychological impairment due to variable drug histories and polydrug use among human users; therefore a translational approach has been adopted to address such limitations of human studies. Moreover, since studies in humans are frequently conducted following a period of drug use, it is difficult to chart the development and progression of neurocognitive alterations. Finally animal studies permit a more direct determination of specific neuropharmacological and other functional or structural brain changes that may underlie behavioral alterations in cannabis users.

 

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