Home > Does cannabis use predict psychometric schizotypy via aberrant salience?

O'Tuathaigh, Colm M P and Dawes, Christopher and Bickerdike, Andrea and Duggan, Eileen and O'Neill, Cian and Waddington, John L and Moran, Paula M (2020) Does cannabis use predict psychometric schizotypy via aberrant salience? Schizophrenia Research, 220, pp. 194-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2020.03.021.

External website: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...

Cannabis can induce acute psychotic symptoms in healthy individuals and exacerbate pre-existing psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. Inappropriate salience allocation is hypothesised to be central to the association between dopamine dysregulation and psychotic symptoms. This study examined whether cannabis use is associated with self-reported salience dysfunction and schizotypal symptoms in a non-clinical population. 910 University students completed the following questionnaire battery: the cannabis experience questionnaire modified version (CEQmv); schizotypal personality questionnaire (SPQ); community assessment of psychic experience (CAPE); aberrant salience inventory (ASI). Mediation analysis was used to test whether aberrant salience mediated the relationship between cannabis use and schizotypal traits. Both frequent cannabis consumption during the previous year and ASI score predicted variation across selected positive and disorganised SPQ subscales. However, for the SPQ subscales 'ideas of reference' and 'odd beliefs', mediation analysis revealed that with the addition of ASI score as a mediating variable, current cannabis use no longer predicted scores on these subscales. Similarly, cannabis use frequency predicted higher total SPQ as well as specific Positive and Disorganised subscale scores, but ASI score as a mediating variable removed the significant predictive relationship between frequent cannabis use and 'odd beliefs', 'ideas of reference', 'unusual perceptual experiences', 'odd speech', and total SPQ scores. In summary, cannabis use was associated with increased psychometric schizotypy and aberrant salience. Using self-report measures in a non-clinical population, the cannabis-related increase in selected positive and disorganised SPQ subscale scores was shown to be, at least in part, mediated by disturbance in salience processing mechanisms.

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