SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Gruber, S. A., & Sagar, K. A. (2017). Marijuana on the Mind? The Impact of Marijuana on Cognition, Brain Structure, and Brain Function, and Related Public Policy Implications. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4(1), 104-111. doi:10.1177/2372732216684851

Abstract: Although marijuana (MJ) has been used for thousands of years, the public’s opinion of MJ has shifted drastically over the past century, leaving many wondering about its potential risks and benefits. This article summarizes research detailing the impact of recreational MJ and related variables (frequency, magnitude, potency, and mode of MJ use) on cognition, brain structure, and brain function. MJ use, particularly at young ages, has been reported to undermine cognition, as well as alter brain structure and function. Furthermore, we discuss how data from recreational MJ studies, as well as more recent medical marijuana (MMJ) research findings, relate to legalization efforts. Considerations for policymakers, such as age limits, guidelines for safe use, and the therapeutic potential of certain constituents of MJ (i.e., cannabidiol), are also outlined. In recent years, policy has outpaced science; important areas in need of further research are noted.

Journal Article 2: Murch, W. S.,& Clark, L. (2016). Gaming in the brain: Neural substrates of gambling addiction. Neuroscientist, 22(5), 534-545.
doi: 10.1177/1073858415591474.

Abstract: As a popular form of recreational risk taking, gambling games offer a paradigm for decision neuroscience research. As an individual behavior, gambling becomes dysfunctional in a subset of the population, with debilitating consequences. Gambling disorder has been recently reconceptualized as a “behavioral addiction” in the DSM-5, based on emerging parallels with substance use disorders. Why do some individuals undergo this transition from recreational to disordered gambling? The biomedical model of problem gambling is a “brain disorder” account that posits an underlying neurobiological abnormality. This article first delineates the neural circuitry that underpins gambling-related decision making, comprising ventral striatum, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, dopaminergic midbrain, and insula, and presents evidence for pathophysiology in this circuitry in gambling disorder. These biological dispositions become translated into clinical disorder through the effects of gambling games. This influence is better articulated in a public health approach that describes the interplay between the player and the (gambling) product. Certain forms of gambling, including electronic gambling machines, appear to be overrepresented in problem gamblers. These games harness psychological features, including variable ratio schedules, near-misses, “losses disguised as wins,” and the illusion of control, which modulate the core decision-making circuitry that is perturbed in gambling disorder.

Journal Article 3: Wang, G. Y., Kydd, R. R.,& Russell, B. R. (2016). Quantitative EEG and low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) imaging of patients undergoing methadone treatment for opiate addictionClinical EEG and Neuroscience, 47(3), 180-187.

Abstract: Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) has been used as a treatment for opiate dependence since the mid-1960s. Evidence suggests that methadone binds to mu opiate receptors as do other opiates and induces changes in neurophysiological function. However, little is known, about how neural activity within the higher frequency gamma band (>30 Hz) while at rest changes in those stabilized on MMT despite its association with the excitation-inhibition balance within pyramidal-interneuron networks. Our study investigated differences in resting gamma power (37-41 Hz) between patients undergoing MMT for opiate dependence, illicit opiate users, and healthy controls subjects. Electroencephalographic data were recorded from 26 sites according to the international 10-20 system. Compared with the healthy controls subjects, people either undergoing MMT (mean difference [MD] = 0.32, 95% CI = 0.09–0.55, P < .01) or currently using illicit opiates (MD = 0.31, 95% CI = 0.06–0.56, P = .01) exhibited significant increased gamma power. The sLORETA (standardized low-resolution electromagnetic tomography) between-group comparison revealed dysfunctional neuronal activity in the occipital, parietal, and frontal lobes in the patients undergoing MMT. A more severe profile of dysfunction was observed in those using illicit opiates. Our findings suggest that long-term exposure to opioids is associated with disrupted resting state network, which may be reduced after MMT.

Journal Article 4: Dwyer, R.,& Fraser, S. (2016). Addicting via hashtags: How is Twitter making addiction?Contemporary Drug Problems, 43(1), 79-97.

Abstract: Persons, substances, bodies, consumption: an ever widening process of “addicting” is underway in Western societies. In this article, we turn our attention to the production of addiction on the microblogging social media platform, Twitter, as an important emerging site in which the addicting of contemporary societies is also occurring. Our analysis explores two questions. First, we investigate the ways in which addiction is enacted via Twitter. How is addiction being made on Twitter? Second, we ask how the technology of Twitter itself is shaping meaning: how do the technological “affordances” of Twitter help constitute the kinds of addiction being materialized? While we find a multiplicity of meanings in the 140-character messages, we also find a pattern: a tendency toward extremes – addiction riven between pain and pleasure. In addition, we find significant areas of commonality between approaches and notable silences around alternatives to common understandings of addiction. We argue that the constraints on communication imposed by Twitter technology afford a “shorthand” of addiction that is both revealing and productive. Illuminated is the importance of addiction as a piece of cultural shorthand that draws on and simultaneously reproduces simplistic, reductive addiction objects. In concluding, we consider what these realities of addiction being enacted through Twitter can tell us about contemporary conditions of possibility for drug use in society and for individual subjectivities and experiences.

Journal Article 5: Oo, K. Z., Aung, Y. K., Jenkins, M. A., & Win, A. K. (2016). Associations of 5HTTLPR polymorphism with major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence: A systematic review and meta-analysisAustralian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 50(9), 842-857.

Abstract: Objective: The neurotransmitter serotonin is understood to control mood and drug response. Carrying a genetic variant in the serotonin transporter gene (5HTT) may increase the risk of major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence. Previous estimates of the association of the S allele of 5HTTLPR polymorphism with major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence have been inconsistent. Methods: For the systematic review, we used PubMed MEDLINE and Discovery of The University of Melbourne to search for all relevant case-control studies investigating the associations of 5HTTLPR polymorphism with major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence. Summary odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated. To investigate whether year of publication, study population or diagnostic criteria used were potential sources of heterogeneity, we performed meta-regression analyses. Publication bias was assessed using Funnel plots and Egger’s statistical tests.