The nature of ecstasy-group related deficits in associative learning
- 107 Downloads
Research has revealed associative learning deficits among users of ecstasy; the present study explored the component processes underlying these deficits.
Thirty-five ecstasy users and 62 non-ecstasy users completed a computer-based, verbal paired-associates learning task. Participants attempted to learn eight sequentially presented word pairs. After all eight had been presented, the first member of each pair was displayed and participants attempted to recall the second. Eight trials were administered. Correct responses on each trial, forgetting at various levels of learning, perseveration errors and the rate at which the associations were learned (trials to completion) were all recorded.
MANOVA revealed that ecstasy users performed worse overall and subsequent ANOVAs showed that users performed significantly worse on virtually all measures. Regression analysis revealed that over half of the ecstasy-group related variance in trials to completion was attributable to group differences in initial learning and forgetting. In relation to forgetting, it appears that cannabis use may be an important determinant. In relation to rate of learning (trials to completion) and initial learning, both ecstasy and cannabis may be implicated.
There appears to be abundant evidence of associative learning deficits among ecstasy users. However, it appears that a range of illicit drugs including cannabis and ecstasy may contribute to these deficits.
KeywordsEcstasy MDMA Learning Paired associate learning Cannabis
- Broening HW, Morford LL, Inman-Wood SL, Fukumura M, Vorhees CV (2001) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) induced learning and memory impairments depend on the age of exposure during early development. J Neurosci 21(9):3228–3235Google Scholar
- Fisk JE (2003) Age differences in associative learning: the role working memory and executive processes. Proc Br Psychol Soc 11:270Google Scholar
- Montgomery C, Fisk J E, Newcombe R, Wareing M, Murphy P (in press) Syllogistic reasoning performance in MDMA (Ecstasy) users. Exp Clin PsychopharmacolGoogle Scholar
- Nelson HE (1982) National Adult Reading Test (NART) test manual. NFER-Nelson, Windsor, Berkshire, UKGoogle Scholar
- Raven J, Raven JC, Court JH (1998) Manual for Raven’s progressive matrices and vocabulary scales. Oxford Psychologists Press, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
- Ricaurte GA, Markowska AL, Wenk GL, Hatzidimitriou G, Wlos J, Olton DS (1993) 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, serotonin, and memory. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 266(2):1097–1105Google Scholar
- Robinson TE, Castaneda E, Whishaw IQ (1993) Effects of cortical serotonin depletion induced by 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine on behaviour, before and after additional cholinergic blockade. Neuropsychopharmacology 8(1):77–85Google Scholar
- Rose M, Verleger R, Wascher E (2001) ERP correlates of associative learning. Psychophysiology 38:440–450Google Scholar
- Solowij N, Hall W, Lee N (1992) Recreational MDMA use in Sydney: a profile of ecstasy users and their experiences with the drug. Br J Addict 87:1161–1172Google Scholar
- Taylor JR, Jentsch JD (2001) Repeated intermittent administration of psychomotor stimulant drugs alters the acquisition of Pavlovian approach behaviour in rats: differential effects of cocaine, d-amphetamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxynethamphetamine (“ecstasy”). Biol Psychiatry 50:137–143CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Thomasius R, Petersen K, Buchert R, Andresen B, Zapletalova P, Wartberg L, Nebeling B, Schmoldt A (2003) Mood, cognition and serotonin transporter availability in current and former ecstasy users. Psychopharmacology 167:85–96Google Scholar
- Uitenbroek D (2004) Simple interactive statistical analysis. Retrieved on November 18, 2004 from: http://home.clara.net/sisa/
- Williams MT, Morford LL, Wood SL, Rock SL, McCrea AE, Fukumura M, Wallace TL, Broening HW, Moran MS, Vorhees CV (2003) Developmental 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine impairs sequential and spatial, but not cued learning, independent of growth, litter effects or injection stress. Brain Res 968:89–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar