Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
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Acute Effects of Cannabis Smoking on Skills Related to Driving : an fMRI Study
Title of the conference
OHBM 2009, 15th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping
San Francisco, California, United States, June 18-23, 2009
Introduction : Driving is a complex everyday task requiring mechanisms of perception, attention, learning, memory, decision making and action control, thus indicating that involves numerous and varied brain networks. If many data have been accumulated over time about the effects of alcohol consumption on driving capability, much less is known about the role of other psychoactive substances, such as cannabis (Chang et al.2007, Ramaekers et al, 2006). Indeed, the solicited brain areas during safe driving which could be affected by cannabis exposure have not yet been clearly identified. Our aim is to study these brain regions during a tracking task related to driving skills and to evaluate the modulation due to the tolerance of cannabis effects. Methods : Eight non-smoker control subjects participated to an fMRI experiment based on a visuo-motor tracking task, alternating active tracking blocks with passive tracking viewing and rest condition. Half of the active tracking conditions included randomly presented traffic lights as distractors. Subjects were asked to track with a joystick with their right hand and to press a button with their left index at each appearance of a distractor. Four smoking subjects participated to the same fMRI sessions once before and once after smoking cannabis and a placebo in two independent cross-over experiments. We quantified the performance of the subjects by measuring the precision of the behavioural responses (i.e. percentage of time of correct tracking and reaction times to distractors). Functional MRI data were acquired using on a 3.0T Siemens Trio system equipped with a 32-channel head coil. BOLD signals will be obtained with a gradient-echo EPI sequence (TR=2s, TE=30ms, FoV=216mm, FA=90°, matrix size 72×72, 32 slices, thickness 3mm). Preprocessing, single subject analysis and group statistics were conducted on SPM8b. Results were thresholded at p<0.05 (FWE corrected) and at k>30 for spatial extent. Results : Behavioural results showed a significant impairment in task and cognitive test performance of the subjects after cannabis inhalation when comparing their tracking accuracy either to the controls subjects or to their performances before the inhalation or after the placebo inhalation (p<0.001 corrected). In controls, fMRI BOLD analysis of the active tracking condition compared to the passive one revealed networks of polymodal areas in superior frontal and parietal cortex dealing with attention and visuo-spatial coordination. In accordance to what is known of the visual and sensory motor networks we found activations in V4, frontal eye-field, right middle frontal gyrus, intra-parietal sulcus, temporo-parietal junction, premotor and sensory-motor cortex. The presence of distractors added a significant activation in the precuneus. Preliminary results on cannabis smokers in the acute phase, compared either to themselves before the cannabis inhalation or to control subjects, showed a decreased activation in large portions of the frontal and parietal attention network during the simple tracking task, but greater involvement of precuneus, of the superior part of intraparietal sulcus and middle frontal gyrus bilaterally when distractors were present in the task. Conclusions : Our preliminary results suggest that acute cannabis smoking alters performances and brain activity during active tracking tasks, partly reorganizing the recruitment of brain areas of the attention network.
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