The study also demonstrated that there’s no difference between users and non-users in terms of reward motivation, pleasure experienced from rewards, or the brain’s response when seeking rewards.
Measuring anhedonia and apathy
The research included 274 cannabis users who had used cannabis at least weekly over the past three months, with an average of four days per week, to be matched with non-users of the same age and gender.
To measure anhedonia, participants were expected to answer questionnaires and rate statements such as “I would enjoy being with family or close friends.” To measure their levels of apathy, on the other hand, participants completed questionnaires that asked them to rank characteristics like how interested they were in learning new things or how likely they were to see a job through to completion.
In terms of apathy, there was no discernible difference between the two groups, while cannabis users appeared to be better able to enjoy themselves, as seen by the fact that they scored slightly lower on anhedonia than non-users. Additionally, the researchers discovered no correlation between cannabis users’ frequency of use and either anhedonia or apathy.
“We were surprised to see that there was very little difference between cannabis users and non-users when it came to lack of motivation or lack of enjoyment, even among those who used cannabis every day,” said Martine Skumlien, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, in the press release. “This is contrary to the stereotypical portrayal we see on TV and in movies.”
A number of behavioral tests measuring physical exertion and the level of pleasure gained from rewards were also carried out by just over half of the participants. The findings revealed that neither the physical effort task nor the genuine reward pleasure task showed any differences between users and non-users or between age groups.