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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00069

Awareness of Emotional Expressions in Cannabis Users: An Event-Related Potential Study

  • 1Wayne State University, United States
  • 2Colorado State University, United States
  • 3University of the West of Scotland, United Kingdom

Cannabis use has been associated with anxiogenic effects when used in low frequency for a short duration, but cannabis can also have anxiogenic effects when used heavily for a long duration. Animal studies have indicated the neurobiological mechanisms related to cannabis and anxiety; however, research has been limited on the related neurocognitive mechanisms. Previous research has indicated that cannabis use is associated with alterations in event-related potentials (ERPs). The purpose of the current study was to examine anxiety related attentional processing of emotional expressions using ERP methods. We used a backward masking paradigm to restrict awareness of facial expressions (i.e. fearful, happy, and neutral). The results indicated that cannabis use was associated with differences in emotional processing. Specifically, the results suggested cannabis users had increased P1 amplitudes towards happy facial expressions compared to fearful and neutral. Additionally, cannabis users seemed to have reduced N170 hemisphere lateralization. Key words: Cannabis, ERP, Emotion, Facial Expression, Awareness

Keywords: Awareness, Emotion Expression, Cannabis, Event Related Potential (ERP), emotion processing

Received: 27 Sep 2018; Accepted: 10 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Andrey R. Nikolaev, KU Leuven, Belgium

Reviewed by:

Hironori Nakatani, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Thomas Schwitzer, CPN LAXOU  

Copyright: © 2019 Torrence, Rojas and Troup. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Robert D. Torrence, Wayne State University, Detroit, 48202, Michigan, United States,