Substance abuse is a global issue that is also prevalent in our own community. It is characterized by patterns of behavior that negatively impact users’ physical and mental health, and is costly to society. In the Substance Use & Neurocognition (SUN) Lab, directed by Dr. Anita Cservenka, we explore the effects of adolescent and young adult substance use on cognition. It is important to understand these effects in order to create education and treatment programs designed to minimize harm caused by substance abuse during critical periods of brain maturation.
Due to recent legalization of marijuana across many states, including Oregon, our lab’s current interests are to understand how marijuana use affects cognitive functioning. Since the human brain continues to mature into the third decade of life, individuals using marijuana during a critical period of brain development may be at higher risk for abuse and/or dependence. Our current study aims to determine marijuana’s effects on higher-order executive functions.