Breaking News
November 19, 2017 - Researchers identify possible genetic basis for coronary artery disease
November 19, 2017 - Stress experienced by emergency call handlers has negative impact on psychological health
November 18, 2017 - New cancer cell screening is improving childhood leukaemia treatment
November 18, 2017 - Groundbreaking study identifies protein as potential factor in cancer metastasis
November 18, 2017 - New model to test effectiveness of existing and potential CF therapies
November 18, 2017 - Staying Active May Lower Odds for Glaucoma
November 18, 2017 - Potential new autism drug shows promise in mice
November 18, 2017 - Some states roll back ‘retroactive Medicaid,’ a buffer for the poor — and for hospitals
November 18, 2017 - Selectively deleting stem cell factor promotes recovery after TBI in mice
November 18, 2017 - Breakthrough research brings new procedure closer to helping patients with blood cancer
November 18, 2017 - Dr Peter Simpson Appointed to SLAS Board of Directors
November 18, 2017 - Friendships between young children can protect against ADHD
November 18, 2017 - Old World monkeys could hold key to stop progression of rheumatoid arthritis
November 18, 2017 - Harris Health System RNs named among 20 Outstanding Nurses for 2017
November 18, 2017 - Old World monkeys could be key to a new, powerful rheumatoid arthritis therapy
November 18, 2017 - Mount Sinai researchers identify new therapeutic target for ER+ breast cancer
November 18, 2017 - Age, CRP levels predict success in tapering of biologics in rheumatoid arthritis patients
November 18, 2017 - New dye could be used to observe electrical activity of neurons in the brain
November 18, 2017 - New study further validates use of vaginal progesterone to decrease risk of preterm birth
November 18, 2017 - Russian researcher determined range of reference values for boron in the human body
November 18, 2017 - ‘What the Health?’ Tax bill or health bill?
November 18, 2017 - Could Your Cat Give You ‘Bird Flu?’
November 18, 2017 - Vitamin D Linked to Fertility Outcomes in ART
November 18, 2017 - Neuroscientists identify genetic changes in microglia in a mouse model of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease
November 18, 2017 - Tax reform proposal could impact care for older Americans
November 18, 2017 - PCSK9 inhibitor offers clinical benefit to patients with peripheral artery disease
November 18, 2017 - Researchers receive £1.3 million to develop sight-saving imaging technology
November 18, 2017 - Novel buckypaper sensor could pave way for high-performance, affordable wearable technology
November 18, 2017 - Despite ACA cost protections, most adolescents skip regular checkups
November 18, 2017 - Stem cell treatment allows paraplegic rats to walk and regain sensory perception
November 18, 2017 - HTC analytical conference comes to the UK
November 18, 2017 - Face It: Drinking, Smoking Takes Toll on Looks: MedlinePlus Health News
November 18, 2017 - New research shows where in the brain the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s occur
November 18, 2017 - Philips announces launch of global movement to raise awareness for COPD
November 18, 2017 - University of Bristol awarded grant to reduce antibacterial drug resistance in Thailand
November 18, 2017 - New oxytocin chemical sensor could be first step towards early diagnosis of autism
November 18, 2017 - Study shows how naïve T-cells may affect tumor immunity and immunotherapy
November 18, 2017 - New studies highlight importance of cardiorespiratory fitness to reduce CVD risk
November 18, 2017 - Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction
November 18, 2017 - Specially tailored, ultrafast light pulses can trigger neurons to fire in different patterns
November 18, 2017 - Decrease in sunshine linked to rising incidence of Rickets
November 18, 2017 - Harnessing social media big data to fight against prescription drug crisis
November 18, 2017 - Researchers find way to switch tumor cells between 2D and 3D morphology
November 18, 2017 - FDA Approves Hemlibra (emicizumab-kxwh) for Hemophilia A with Inhibitors
November 18, 2017 - Adolescents underreport amphetamine use, likely unaware that adderall is amphetamine
November 18, 2017 - Study reveals a reduced risk of teenage eczema in breastfed babies
November 18, 2017 - Separating side effects could pave way for safe, effective pain medications
November 18, 2017 - Gut bacteria at young age can contribute to MS disease onset and progression, study suggests
November 18, 2017 - Environmental triggers may play role in development of Lupus
November 18, 2017 - Review looks into conventional versus new treatment modalities in orthodontic pain management
November 17, 2017 - FDA Alert: Diphenoxylate Hydrochloride and Atropine Sulfate Tablets by Greenstone: Recall
November 17, 2017 - For older women, every movement matters
November 17, 2017 - Talking-based therapy could transform aftercare for cancer survivors
November 17, 2017 - Olympus IXplore SpinSR10 imaging system enables researchers to observe fine details in live cells
November 17, 2017 - Study explores reasons for underrepresentation of minorities in genetic cancer research
November 17, 2017 - California firm running physician practices is closing down as scrutiny ramps up
November 17, 2017 - BMI not valid measure of obesity in postmenopausal women, study shows
November 17, 2017 - Vaginal progesterone decreases the risk of premature birth in women with short cervix
November 17, 2017 - Pricey ER Tests for Chest Pain Often Unnecessary
November 17, 2017 - ‘Old’ Lungs May Be Good Transplant Options: MedlinePlus Health News
November 17, 2017 - How not to gain weight over the holidays
November 17, 2017 - Researchers map first-ever proteome of healthy human heart
November 17, 2017 - Drug used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective for Zika virus
November 17, 2017 - One in 20 children still receiving codeine to treat pain despite warning from federal regulators
November 17, 2017 - Improving clinical trials with machine learning
November 17, 2017 - Experts identify mental exercise program that can reduce risk of dementia
November 17, 2017 - Just-in-time 3-D implants set to transform tumor surgery
November 17, 2017 - Skin patch offers hope for people with peanut allergy
November 17, 2017 - Scientists identify biomarkers that predict risk of death in Ebola patients
November 17, 2017 - Heart attack, stroke patients have improved outcomes when statins are prescribed after discharge
November 17, 2017 - Majority of people do not understand link between obesity and cancer, study shows
November 17, 2017 - Deep vein thrombosis accurately diagnosed by GPs trained in compression ultrasonography
November 17, 2017 - New Kevlar-based hydrogel recreates the magic of natural cartilage
November 17, 2017 - FDA approves first adjuvant treatment to reduce risk of kidney cancer recurrence
November 17, 2017 - Foods made with biofortified corn flour and eggs retain vitamin A after cooking
November 17, 2017 - Integrated Care Winning the Day for Healthcare Companies
November 17, 2017 - CPAP may be superior to gastric banding for severe sleep apnea
November 17, 2017 - New pain relievers reduce opiate overdose risk
November 17, 2017 - Brain astrocytes could play key role in pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease
November 17, 2017 - Researchers test whether LVAD surgery could reverse frailty in older adults with heart failure
Cocaine use during adolescence is even more harmful than during adulthood

Cocaine use during adolescence is even more harmful than during adulthood

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
A pile of cocaine hydrochloride. Credit: DEA Drug Enforcement Agency, public domain

People who begin using cocaine during adolescence exhibit more significant cognitive deficits than people who begin using the drug in adulthood. Long suspected by experts in neuroscience, the hypothesis received objective confirmation by researchers working at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP) in Brazil.

When scientists compared the two groups of cocaine users, they observed pronounced differences, mainly in specific neuropsychological functions such as sustained attention (required for performing long tasks, such as completing a questionnaire), working memory (used in specific actions, for example, a waiter remembering the order of each person at a table) and declarative memory (storing and retrieving data after a period of time).

They also found that among early-onset users, the concurrent consumption of cannabis and alcohol was 50 percent and 30 percent more frequent, respectively, compared with late-onset users, defined as those who began using cocaine at or over the age of 18. The complete findings of the research project were published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

“Adolescence is considered one of the key stages of brain development when surplus synapses are eliminated and the structures essential to adulthood are selected and refined. Drug use in this stage can impair the brain programming process and lead to the loss of important connections,” said Paulo Jannuzzi Cunha, a professor at FM-USP and principal investigator for the project.

Differentiated Methodology

According to Cunha, one of the novel aspects of the research project was the measurement of cognitive functions during controlled abstinence. “Many studies of this kind assess outpatients without any possibility of knowing whether they’ll use drugs when they go home,” he said. “In our case, however, all participants were hospital inpatients. We can therefore be sure the findings didn’t reflect acute effects of cocaine or other substances.”

The sample contained 103 cocaine-dependent patients, 52 of whom were early-onset users who had begun using the drug before they were 18, while 51 were late-onset users who began when they were 18 or older. All individuals were evaluated after at least a week of abstinence. The absence of cocaine metabolites was verified by toxicological urine tests. A third group of 63 people with no history of psychoactive substance use served as the control.

The participants’ ages ranged from 20 to 35. The proportions of men and women were similar. One of the early-onset users had begun consuming cocaine at age 12.

“Data in the scientific literature shows that a brain region called the prefrontal cortex continues to develop until age 25. This region relates to what are known as executive functions such as planning, decision making, inhibitory control, attention and working memory. We therefore decided to investigate whether these functions were more impaired in early-onset users,” said psychologist Bruna Mayara Lopes, first author of the article.

The evaluation involved a number of tests, including the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), Stroop Color Word Test (SCWT), Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT), Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (ROCFT) and Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The use of alcohol and other drugs was assessed using the Addiction Severity Index (ASI-6).

“Basically, we presented the participants with a task they had to complete, such as repeating a sequence of numbers in reverse order or reproducing a figure from memory about 30 minutes after observing it,” Lopes said.

When they compared late-onset users with the control group and adjusted the results for variables such as age and intelligence quotient (IQ), the only difference the researchers found was in divided attention, which relates to the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time.

In a study underway at USP’s Neuroimaging Laboratory (LIM-21), the researchers are now seeking to correlate the cognitive profile observed in the two groups of cocaine-dependent patients with decision making and resting-state brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Studies of brain structure and correlations with levels of a protein known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) will also be performed using these findings.

“We’re measuring such variables as prefrontal cortex volume and white matter integrity. We’ll be able to disclose some of our findings shortly,” said Priscila Dib Gonçalves, a co-author of the article.

White matter, found in the deeper tissues of the brain, contains axons connecting grey matter, which is where all synapses are located.

According to Gonçalves, a higher probability of cognitive impairment due to early-onset drug use was previously observed in a study involving 104 chronic cannabis users. This study, published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, was conducted at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) by Maria Alice Fontes. It found that people who began smoking marijuana before age 15 underperformed late-onset users in tests that assessed executive functions.

For Gonçalves, both studies indicate the need to develop more effective prevention strategies and programs targeting adolescents. “We live in a society that associates recreation with the use of psychoactive substances, and this is an important cultural aspect,” she said. “One way to raise awareness of the risks could be to hold workshops with students, who should be called on to play a leading role in this awareness-raising process, rather than being passive recipients of information.” For Cunha, the results also show that patients with severe cognitive deficits need intense multidisciplinary treatment, including medication as well as therapy.


Explore further:
Cocaine users present alterations in the function and structures of the brain

More information:
Bruna Mayara Lopes et al, Distinct cognitive performance and patterns of drug use among early and late onset cocaine users, Addictive Behaviors (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.04.013

Journal reference:
British Journal of Psychiatry

Provided by:
FAPESP

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles