Functional MRI study of working memory in MDMA users
- First Online:
- 409 Downloads
Methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is known to cause degeneration of serotonin nerve terminals after acute doses in animals. Similarly, behavioral studies in human MDMA users regularly find abnormalities in memory, mood, and impulse control. However, studies of brain function using brain imaging in MDMA users have been less consistent.
The purpose of this study was to determine, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), whether individuals with a self-reported history of MDMA use would differ from non-MDMA using controls on activation while performing a working memory task.
Fifteen MDMA using subjects and 19 non-MDMA using controls underwent fMRI scanning while performing the immediate and delayed memory task (IMT/DMT). The study was based on a block design in which the delayed memory task (DMT) alternated with the immediate memory task (IMT), which served as a control condition. FMRI scans were acquired on a 1.5 T scanner, using a gradient echo echoplanar pulse sequence.
Random effects SPM99 analysis showed significantly greater activation (whole volume corrected cluster P<0.05) during the DMT relative to the IMT in the MDMA subjects compared with the control subjects in the medial superior frontal gyrus, in the thalamus extending into putamen, and in the hippocampus.
Although these effects could be due to other drugs used by MDMA users, these results are consistent with behavioral problems that are associated with MDMA use, and with animal studies on the effects of MDMA on brain function.
KeywordsMDMA Functional magnetic resonance imaging Working memory Substance abuse
- Adler RJ (1981) The geometry of random fields. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Brett M, Anton J-L, Valabregue R, Poline J-B (2002) Region of interest analysis using an SPM toolbox [abstract]. Presented at the Eighth International Conference on Functional Mapping of the Human Brain, June 2–6, 2002, Sendai, Japan. NeuroImage 16Google Scholar
- Chang L, Grob CS, Ernst T, Itti L, Mishkin FS, Jose-Melchor R, Poland RE (2000) Effect of ecstasy [3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)] on cerebral blood flow: a co-registered SPECT and MRI study. Psychiatry Res 98:15–28Google Scholar
- Dafters RI, Hoshi R, Talbot AC (2003) Contribution of cannabis and MDMA (“ecstasy”) to cognitive changes in long-term polydrug users. Psychopharmacology Aug 30 [EPub ahead of print]Google Scholar
- Donaldson W (1992) Measuring recognition memory. J Exp Psychol [Gen Sect] 121:275–277Google Scholar
- Dougherty DM (1999) IMT/DMT immediate memory tasks & delayed memory task: a research tool for studying attention and memory processes. Neurobehavioral Research Laboratory and Clinic, University of Texas Houston Health Science Center, HoustonGoogle Scholar
- First MB, Spitzer RL, Gibbon M, Williams JB (1996) Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV axis I disorders patient edition. Biometrics Research Department, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Friston KJ, Holmes, Worsley KJ, Poline JP, Frith CD, Frackowiak RSJ (1995a) Statistical parametric maps in functional imaging: a general linear approach. Hum Brain Mapp 2:189–210Google Scholar
- Friston KJ, Holmes AP, Poline JB, Price CJ, Frith CD (1995b) Detecting activations in PET and fMRI: levels of inference and power. Neuroimage 40:223–235Google Scholar
- Gamma A, Buck A, Berthold T, Vollenweider FX (2001) No difference in brain activation during cognitive performance between ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) users and control subjects: a [H2(15)O]-positron emission tomography study. J Clin Psychopharmacol 21:66–71CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Holmes A, Friston KJ (1998) Generalisability, random effects & population inference. Neuroimage 7:S754Google Scholar
- Jacobsen LK, Mencl WE, Pugh KR, Skudlarski P, Krystal JH (2003) Preliminary evidence of hippocampal dysfunction in adolescent MDMA (“ecstasy”) users: possible relationship to neurotoxic effects. Psychopharmacology Nov 28 [Epub ahead of print]Google Scholar
- Poline JB, Holmes A, Worsley K, Friston KJ (1997) Making statistical inferences. In: Frackowiac RSJ, Friston KJ, Frith CD, Dolan RJ, Mazziotta JC (eds) Human brain function. Academic, San Diego, pp 85–106Google Scholar
- Quate L, McBean DE, Ritchie IM, Olverman HJ, Kelly PA (2004) Acute methylenedioxymethamphetamine administration: effects on local cerebral blood flow and glucose utilization in the dark agouti rat. Psychopharmacology Feb 20 [Epub ahead of print]Google Scholar
- Ricaurte GA, McCann UD, Szabo Z, Scheffel U (2000a) Toxicodynamics and long-term toxicity of the recreational drug, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”). Toxicol Lett 112–113:143–146Google Scholar
- Talairach J, Tournoux P (1988) Co-planar stereotaxic atlas of the human brain, 1st edn. Thieme, New YorkGoogle Scholar