Assessing topographical orientation skills in cannabis users

Liana Palermo, Filippo Bianchini, Giuseppe Iaria, Antonio Tanzilli, Cecilia Guariglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The long-term effects of cannabis on human cognition are still unclear, but, considering that cannabis is a widely used substance and, overall, its potential use in therapeutic interventions, it is important to evaluate them. We hypothesize that the discrepancies among studies could be attributed to the specific cognitive function investigated and that skills subserved by the hippocampus, such as the spatial orientation abilities and, specifically, the ability to form and use cognitive maps, should be more compromised than others. Indeed it has been showed that cannabis users have a reduced hippocampus and that the hippocampus is the brain region in which cannabis has the greatest effect since it contains the highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors. To test this hypothesis we asked 15 heavy cannabis users and 19 nonusers to perform a virtual navigational test, the CMT, that assesses the ability to form and use cognitive maps. We found that using cannabis has no effect on these hippocampus-dependent orientation skills. We discuss the implications of our findings and how they relate to evidence reported in the literature that the intervention of functional reorganization mechanisms in cannabis user allows them to cope with the cognitive demands of navigational tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137071
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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