Distress Intolerance Moderation of Neurophysiological Markers of Response Inhibition After Induced Stress: Relations With Cannabis Use Disorder


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Abstract

Cannabis use is prevalent but only a minority of regular users develop cannabis use disorder (CUD); thus, CUD risk identification among current cannabis users is vital for targeted intervention development. Existing data suggest that high distress intolerance (DI), an individual difference reflective of the ability to withstand negative affect, is linked to CUD, possibly via stress-elicited impairment of response inhibition but this has never been explicitly tested. Frequent cannabis users with high and low DI completed a go/no-go task during EEG recording before and after a laboratory stressor. Relations between DI, cannabis use-related problems, and behavioral as well as neurophysiological markers of response inhibition functioning were assessed. DI significantly moderated the effect of the stressor on the conflict-monitoring but not evaluative phase of response inhibition as measured by N2 and P3a amplitude, respectively. Unexpectedly, cannabis users with high DI demonstrated stressor-elicited enhancement rather than impairment of conflict-monitoring neural activity, which was related to faster reaction time (RT) and decreased past-month cannabis problems. Enhanced inhibition-related modulation of P3a amplitude was generally associated with increased cannabis problems regardless of acute stress. Results did not provide support for stress-elicited impairment in cognitive control as a mechanism linking high DI and CUD, though some support was found for the relevance of inhibition-related neural activity to CUD. Stress-elicited enhancement of conflict-monitoring neural activity during response inhibition may reflect an adaptive neural response among cannabis users with high DI that protects against CUD in this at-risk group.

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