January 17, 2021

The acute effects of cannabidiol on emotional processing and anxiety: a neurocognitive imaging study

Background: There is growing interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) across a range of psychiatric disorders. CBD has been found to reduce anxiety during experimentally-induced stress in anxious individuals and healthy controls. However, the mechanisms underlying the putative anxiolytic effects of CBD are unknown. We therefore sought to investigate the behavioural and neural effects of a single dose of CBD vs. placebo on a range of emotion-related measures to test cognitive-mechanistic models of its effects on anxiety. Methods: We conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover, acute oral challenge of 600 mg of CBD in 24 healthy participants on emotional processing, with neuroimaging (viewing emotional faces during fMRI) and cognitive (emotional appraisal) measures as well as subjective response to experimentally-induced anxiety. Results: CBD did not produce effects on BOLD responses to emotional faces, cognitive measures of emotional processing, or modulate experimentally-induced anxiety, relative to placebo. Conclusions: Given the rising popularity of CBD for its putative medical benefits, further research is warranted to investigate the clinical potential of CBD for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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