Research: The Connection Between Cognitive Skills and Stimulant Users
Mentor: Dr. Michael Garcia
Study Location: Regeneron
Stimulant use is a problem within today’s world as the numbers for the amount of drug users increase every day and so does the amount of drug overdoses (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2021). As someone uses drugs more and more, it begins to affect them mentally, emotionally, and physically (Aron & Paulus 2007; Perry & Carroll, 2008). This affects many areas of the brain and how they function, especially the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex (vmPFC) where cognitive skills are utilized. The cognitive skill is the ability to process, remember, memorize, analyze and think, comprehend, etc. These skills are essential for everyday life. So for these skills to be affected through drug use, according to previous research, it will heavily affect the drug user negatively. The objective of this study is to compare the deficits of stimulant users at two different time periods through their cognitive function assessments. Like in previous studies, an equal number of stimulant users and healthy participants will be assessed through a number of tasks that the cognitive skill is essential to complete. The tasks that will assess this function are a series of puzzles and memory matching games. Expected results are that the stimulant users will have done better the second time that they are assessed through tasks than the first time. Healthy participants are expected to have a better possibility of scoring higher than the drug users. This can be because of the deficits in the brain that come from a long use of drugs, resulting in the brain’s usual functions to be affected by developing abnormalities within this vital area. These results would suggest the fact that impairments are made on the brain, hindering the way the brain normally functions, when there is continued drug use.