Cannabis use impacts pre-stimulus neural activity in the visual cortices of people with HIV

Nicholas J. Christopher-Hayes, Brandon J. Lew, Alex I. Wiesman, Mikki Schantell, Jennifer O'Neill, Pamela E. May, Susan Swindells, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

People with HIV (PWH) use cannabis at a higher rate than the general population, but the influence on neural activity is not well characterized. Cannabis use among PWH may have a beneficial effect, as neuroinflammation is known to be a critical problem in PWH and cannabis use has been associated with a reduction in proinflammatory markers. Thus, it is important to understand the net impact of cannabis use on brain and cognitive function in PWH. In this study, we collected magnetoencephalographic (MEG) brain imaging data on 81 participants split across four demographically matched groups (i.e., PWH using cannabis, controls using cannabis, non-using PWH, and non-using controls). Participants completed a visuospatial processing task during MEG. Time–frequency resolved voxel time series were extracted to identify the dynamics of oscillatory and pre-stimulus baseline neural activity. Our results indicated strong theta (4–8 Hz), alpha (10–16 Hz), and gamma (62–72 Hz) visual oscillations in parietal–occipital brain regions across all participants. PWH exhibited significant behavioral deficits in visuospatial processing, as well as reduced theta oscillations and elevated pre-stimulus gamma activity in visual cortices, all of which replicate prior work. Strikingly, chronic cannabis use was associated with a significant reduction in pre-stimulus gamma activity in the visual cortices, such that PWH no longer statistically differed from controls. These results provide initial evidence that cannabis use may normalize some neural aberrations in PWH. This study fills an important gap in understanding the impact of cannabis use on brain and cognitive function in PWH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5446-5457
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume42
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • MEG
  • gamma
  • magnetoencephalography
  • neural oscillations
  • neurocognitive decline
  • visuospatial processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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