How Cannabis Affects Motivation and Reward Response

Study debunks clichés about lazy stoners

According to a recent study, the widely held notion of lazy, apathetic cannabis users doesn’t seem to apply. The brain’s response to reward is also independent of cannabis use.

The study involved experts from Cambridge university investigated whether cannabis use was associated with higher levels of apathy (loss of motivation) and anhedonia (loss of interest in or enjoyment of rewards) or with lower willingness to exercise for rewards.

The results were published in the English-language journal “International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology” came out.

274 participants regularly used cannabis.

Participated in a new investigation 274 teenagers and adults participants who used cannabis at least once a week in the past three months. The average consumption was four days a week. In addition, there was a control group of people who did not use cannabis.

Participants were asked to complete questionnaires to determine Anhedonia fill. In them they became her reaction to certain statements interrogated.

In addition, the questionnaire was used to Measurement of apathy A questionnaire that assessed characteristics such as interest in learning new things or willingness to complete a task.

What differences were found?

The researchers report that in terms of anhedonia, participants who used cannabis actually performed slightly worse than people in the control group. Connection between frequency of cannabis use however, anhedonia was not detected and there was no significant difference in relation to apathy.

We were surprised to see that there are indeed very few differences between cannabis users and non-users when it comes to lack of motivation or lack of pleasure, even among daily cannabis users.— says the author of the study. Martina Skumlien in one Press release.

Cannabis harms teenagers more than adults?

When it comes to cannabis use, there is often a concern that its use may have a more negative impact on teenagers than on adults.

However, our study, one of the first to directly compare teens and adults who use cannabis, suggests that teens are no more vulnerable than adults to the detrimental effects of cannabis on motivation, pleasure, or brain responses to rewards.‘ says the author of the study. Dr. Will Lawn.

Cannabis does not appear to have, or at best, little association with these factors. “However, we need studies that examine these associations over a long period of time to confirm the results.the doctor adds.

How can cannabis affect physical activity?

Slightly more than half of the participants who used cannabis also performed various behavioral tasks. In the first of these tasks exercise stress rating.

Participants had the opportunity pressing buttons Earn points that later against chocolate or candy could be exchanged. There were three different difficulty levels with three levels of rewards available.

More difficult attempts one is required faster pressing buttons. Before the experiment, the participants had to decide whether they wanted to participate or not. Points were awarded only for successfully completed attempts.

How were the friends of the award determined?

In the second task, we measured how Friends who had members in their awards. They were first asked to use a scale to indicate how much they wanted each of the three awards (30 seconds of their favorite song, a piece of chocolate or candy, and a £1 coin).

After evaluation, participants were given each award in turn and asked to choose one. estimate the scalehow make them happy found.

The researchers were able to distinguish between subjects and controls, and between adolescents and adults, on both exercise and pleasure tasks. no difference determine. According to the team, this confirms the results of other studies in which there were no differences or there were very small differences.

Cannabis does not affect motivation

Overall, the results show that people who use cannabis are not more likely to unmotivated or lazy than people who don’t. Thus, the image of a lazy stoner is inappropriate.

Unfair assumptions can create stigma and divert attention from harm reduction messages. We must be honest and open about what are the harmful effects of drug use and what are not.“, explained spooky.

The team released one earlier this year Studyin which, with the help of the so-called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) die brain activity the same participants.

In the meantime, they were asked to complete the task of measuring their reward processing with financial rewards. Researchers have explored how the brain responds to rewardsfocusing in particular on the so-called ventral striatum is a key area in the brain’s reward system.

However, experts could not identify any connection between activity in this region and cannabis consumption. Thus, the reward system of cannabis users was also unaffected in this study.

Our results show that cannabis use has no effect on motivation. Our study participants included users who used cannabis an average of four days a week and were no more likely to be unmotivated.‘, sums up the author of the study. Professor Barbara Sahakyan.

However, according to the doctor, it cannot be ruled out that a higher intake, as happens in some people with Cannabis use disorder present, can definitely have an impact.

Until we have studies that track adolescent marijuana users from inception to adolescence and that combine motivation measurements and brain imaging, we cannot say with certainty that regular cannabis use does not negatively affect motivation and developing brain.” sums up Professor Sahakyan together. (as)

Information about the author and source

This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current research and has been verified by medical professionals.


  • Martin Scumlien, Claire Mokrysh, Tom P. Freeman, Vincent Walton, Matthew B. Wall, et al: Anhedonia, apathy, pleasure, and effort-based decision making in adult and adolescent cannabis users and controls; in: International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (veröffentlicht 08/24/2022), International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • University of Cambridge: Cannabis users are no less motivated and able to enjoy life (veröffentlicht 09/01/2022), Cambridge university
  • Claire Moist, Tom P. Freeman, Matthew B. Wall, Michael Bloomfield, Rachel Lees, et al: Neural responses to reward expectation and feedback in adult and adolescent cannabis users and controls; in: Neuropsychopharmacology (veröffentlicht 04/06/2022), neuropsychopharmacology

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.

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