It has been suggested that 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) causes damage to the serotonergic system, and that this damage results in cognitive and mood impairments.
To examine the effect of chronic MDMA usage on a wide battery of cognitive tests and psychological abilities and processes.
In the present study, the performance of 17 participants with a history of MDMA use was compared to the performance of 15 control subjects on a battery of neuropsychological tests. This battery included tests for depression, immediate word recall, delayed recall, attention and working memory.
Results indicated that the MDMA group had significantly higher scores for depression than the control group, and displayed poorer delayed recall and verbal learning than controls after accounting statistically for the effects of cannabis and depression.
These results suggest that MDMA users exhibit difficulties in coding information into long-term memory, display impaired verbal learning, are more easily distracted, and are less efficient at focusing attention on complex tasks.
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McCardle, K., Luebbers, S., Carter, J.D. et al. Chronic MDMA (ecstasy) use, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology 173, 434–439 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-004-1791-0