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To better understand the biopsychosocial mechanisms associated with development and maintenance of cannabis use disorder (CUD), we examined frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) as a measure of approach bias and inhibitory control in cannabis users versus healthy nonusers. We investigated: (1) whether FAA could distinguish cannabis users from healthy controls; (2) whether there are cue-specific FAA effects in cannabis users versus controls; and (3) the time course of cue-specific approach motivation and inhibitory control processes. EEG data were analyzed from forty participants (CUD (n = 20) and controls (n = 20)) who completed a modified visual attention task. Results showed controls exhibited greater relative right hemisphere activation (indicating avoidance/withdrawal motivation) when exposed to cannabis cues during the filtering task. By contrast, cannabis users exhibited greater relative left activation (approach) to all cues (cannabis, positive, negative, and neutral), reflecting a generalized approach motivational tendency, particularly during later stages of inhibitory control processes. The difference between cannabis users and controls in FAA was largest during mid- to late processing stages of all cues, indicating greater approach motivation during later stages of information processing among cannabis users. Findings suggest FAA may distinguish cannabis users from healthy controls and shows promise as a measure of inhibitory control processes in cannabis users.


This article was originally published in Brain Sciences, available at doi:10.3390/brainsci9090219.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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