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Persecutory delusions are a key psychotic experience. A reasoning style known as ‘jumping to conclusions’ (JTC) – limited information gathering before reaching certainty in decision making – has been identified as a contributory factor in the occurrence of delusions. The cognitive processes that underpin JTC need to be determined in order to develop effective interventions for delusions. In the current study two alternative perspectives were tested: that JTC partially results from impairment in information-processing capabilities and that JTC is a motivated strategy to avoid uncertainty.
A group of 123 patients with persistent persecutory delusions completed assessments of JTC (the 60:40 beads task), IQ, working memory, intolerance of uncertainty, and psychiatric symptoms. Patients showing JTC were compared with patients not showing JTC.
A total of 30 (24%) patients with delusions showed JTC. There were no differences between patients who did and did not jump to conclusions in overall psychopathology. Patients who jumped to conclusions had poorer working memory performance, lower IQ, lower intolerance of uncertainty and lower levels of worry. Working memory and worry independently predicted the presence of JTC.
Hasty decision making in patients with delusions may partly arise from difficulties in keeping information in mind. Interventions for JTC are likely to benefit from addressing working memory performance, while in vivo techniques for patients with delusions will benefit from limiting the demands on working memory. The study provides little evidence for a contribution to JTC from top-down motivational beliefs about uncertainty.
Cannabis varies considerably in levels of its two major constituent cannabinoids – (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Recently, we found evidence that those who smoked cannabis containing detectable levels of CBD had fewer psychotic-like symptoms than those whose cannabis had no CBD. The present study aimed, first, to replicate those findings and, second, to determine whether protective effects of CBD may extend to other harms of cannabis, such as memory impairment and reduced psychological well-being.
A total of 120 current cannabis smokers, 66 daily users and 54 recreational users were classified into groups according to whether analysis of their hair revealed the presence or absence of CBD and high versus low levels of THC. All were assessed on measures of psychosis-like symptoms, memory (prose recall; source memory) and depression/anxiety.
Lower psychosis-like symptoms were found in those whose hair had CBD compared with those without. However, this was seen only in recreational users, who had higher levels of THC in their hair. Higher THC levels in hair were associated with increased depression and anxiety. Prose recall and source memory were poorer in daily users with high THC levels in hair while recognition memory was better in individuals with CBD present in hair.
CBD attenuates the psychotic-like effects of cannabis over time in recreational users. Higher THC negatively impacts on memory and psychological well-being. These findings raise concerns for the harms stemming from use of varieties such as ‘skunk’ (sensimillia), which lack any CBD but currently dominate the supply of cannabis in many countries.
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