Chronic cannabis use and error awareness: The effect on learning from errors


Background:

Cannabis is the third most commonly used drug worldwide, with studies suggesting a deleterious effect on some aspects of performance monitoring. It is unknown, however, whether diminished error awareness influences adaptive behaviour in cannabis users. Therefore, this study examined the effect of error awareness on learning from errors in cannabis users.


Methods:

Thirty-six chronic cannabis users (Mage = 23.81 years; female, 36%) and 34 controls (Mage = 21.53 years; female, 76%) completed a Go/No-Go task that allowed participants to learn from errors and adapt their behaviour. Multilevel models were specified to determine whether the effect of error awareness on learning from errors differs between cannabis users and controls, and whether cannabis-use measures predict error correction while accounting for error awareness.


Results:

While error awareness and correction rates did not differ between the groups, there was a significant effect of age of use onset on error correction in cannabis users. Further, the effect of error awareness was dependent on age of onset, and cannabis use-related frequency and harm. That is, cannabis users reporting an earlier age of regular use or scoring higher on the cannabis use index were less likely to perform correctly following an aware error.


Conclusion:

It appears overall cannabis use might not be tightly coupled to behavioural indices of performance monitoring. There is evidence, however, that aspects of cannabis use predict impairments in learning from errors that may be associated with treatment outcomes.

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