EUROPEAN NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY, vol.63, pp.1-14, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
Schizophrenia is frequently accompanied with social cognitive disturbances. Cannabis represents one established environmental factor associated with the onset and progression of schizophrenia. The present cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the association of facial emotion recognition (FER) performance with cannabis use in 2039 patients with schizophrenia, 2141 siblings, and 2049 healthy controls (HC). FER performance was measured using the Degraded Facial Affect Recognition Task (DFAR). Better FER performance as indicated by higher DFAR-total scores was associated with lifetime regular cannabis use in schizophrenia (B = 1.36, 95% CI 0.02 to 2.69), siblings (B = 2.17, 95% CI 0.79 to 3.56), and HC (B = 3.10, 95% CI 1.14 to 5.06). No associations were found between DFAR-total and current cannabis use. Patients with schizophrenia who started to use cannabis after the age of 16 showed better FER performance than patients who started earlier (B = 2.50, 95% CI 0.15 to 4.84) and non-users (B = 3.72, 95 CI 1.96 to 5.49). Better FER performance was found also in siblings who started to use cannabis after 16 compared to non-users (B = 2.37, 95% CI 0.58 to 4.16), while HC using cannabis performed better than non-users at DFAR-total regardless of the age at onset. Our findings suggest that lifetime regular cannabis use may be associated with better FER regardless of the psychosis risk, but that FER might be moderated by age at first use in people with higher genetic risk. Longitudinal studies may clarify whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between cannabis use and FER performance in psychotic and non-psychotic samples. (C) 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V.