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Executive control among adolescent inhalant and cannabis users


  • Michael Takagi PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dan I. Lubman MB ChB, PhD, FRANZCP, Professor and Director of Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Susan Cotton PhD, Griffith Research Fellow, Alex Fornito PhD, NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Yasmin Baliz DPsych, Neuropsychologist, Alan Tucker PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, Murat Yücel PhD, MAPS, Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow.

Professor Murat Yücel, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Tel: +61 3 8344 1877; Fax: +61 3 9348 0469; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims.Inhalants are frequently among the first drugs abused by adolescents; however, little is known about how chronic inhalant abuse affects cognition (e.g. executive functioning). Several studies have examined cognitive deficits among inhalant users; however, no study has thoroughly addressed the confounding issues frequently associated with inhalant users (e.g. polysubstance use). The aim of the current study was to examine possible deficits in cognitive control among young, regular inhalant users and explore the relationship between inhalant use and executive functioning.

Design and Methods.Three groups (n = 19) of young people (aged 14–24) were recruited: an inhalant-using group, a drug-using control group and a community control group. The inhalant and drug-using controls were matched on demographic, clinical and substance use measures. All three groups were matched on age, sex and education. Cognitive control was assessed using Stroop and Go/No-Go tasks.

Results.There were no significant differences in performance between the groups on any measure. However, three measures (incongruent reaction times and congruent errors for the Stroop and omission errors for the Go/No-Go) were significantly correlated with inhalant use measures, suggesting inhalant use was associated with poorer performance.

Discussion and Conclusions.The lack of significant differences between the groups is surprising; however, it raises important questions regarding cognitive deficits among chronic inhalant users. Further longitudinal studies using well-matched control participants are required to delineate the nature and timing of cognitive and neurobiological pathology among adolescent inhalant users.[Takagi M, Lubman DI, Cotton S, Fornito A, Baliz Y, Tucker A, Yücel M. Executive control among adolescent inhalant and cannabis users. Drug Alcohol Rev 2010;30:629–637]