Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Research suggests that risky decision-making is sensitive to neuromodulatory influences acting upon corticolimbic circuitry. However, while other evidence attests to effects of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on the activity of reward pathways, relatively little is known about the possible involvement of cannabinoid activity in risky choice. In this experiment, we examined the effects of a single sublingual 5 mg dose of THC on a test of risky decision-making (requiring choices between simultaneously presented gambles differing in their magnitude of gains, magnitude of losses and the probability with which these outcomes were delivered). Tests of non-normative decision-making involving risk-aversion when deciding between gains and risk-seeking choices when deciding between losses were also included. In all, 15 healthy adults were administered 5 mg THC and placebo in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject, cross-over design. THC had three principal effects relative to placebo: (i) THC reduced choice of gambles with variable gains and losses, but increased choice of gambles with zero-expected value; (ii) THC reduced participants' attention towards losses when the probability of winning was low (and the probability of losing was high); and (iii) THC speeded participants' responses to gambles with large compared to small potential gains. These results suggest that THC mediates specific motivational processes and the processing of reinforcement cues during risky choice, perhaps reflecting altered CB1 receptor or catecholamine activity within corticolimbic pathways.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/sj.npp.1301175

Type

Journal article

Journal

Neuropsychopharmacology

Publication Date

02/2007

Volume

32

Pages

417 - 428

Keywords

Adult, Age Factors, Attention, Brain, Catecholamines, Cognition, Cognition Disorders, Cross-Over Studies, Decision Making, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Double-Blind Method, Dronabinol, Female, Humans, Male, Neural Pathways, Neuropsychological Tests, Placebos, Psychotropic Drugs, Reaction Time, Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1, Reinforcement (Psychology), Risk-Taking