Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) is a simple tool for detecting executive deficits in chronic cannabis users

Maria Alice Fontes, Karen I. Bolla, Paulo Jannuzzi Cunha, Priscila Previato Almeida, Flávia Jungerman, Ronaldo Ramos Laranjeira, Rodrigo A. Bressan, Acioly L.T. Lacerda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cannabis is the most used illicit drug in the world, and its use has been associated with prefrontal cortex (PFC) dysfunction, including deficits in executive functions (EF). Considering that EF may influence treatment outcome, it would be interesting to have a brief neuropsychological battery to assess EF in chronic cannabis users (CCU). In the present study, the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), a brief, easy to use neuropsychological instrument aimed to evaluate EF, was used to evaluate cognitive functioning of CCU. Methods: We evaluated 107 abstinent CCU with the FAB and compared with 44 controls matched for age, estimated IQ, and years of education. Results: CCU performed poorly as compared to controls (FAB total score = 16.53 vs. 17.09, p < .05). CCU had also a poor performance in the Motor Programming subtest (2.47 vs. 2.73, p < .05). Conclusion: This study examined effects of cannabis in executive functioning and showed evidence that the FAB is sensitive to detect EF deficits in early abstinent chronic cannabis users. Clinical significance of these findings remains to be investigated in further longitudinal studies. FAB may be useful as a screening instrument to evaluate the necessity for a complete neuropsychological assessment in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-531
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Cannabis
  • Cognition
  • Executive cognitive functions
  • Marijuana
  • Prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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