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Incidental Use of Ecstasy: No Evidence for Harmful Effects on Cognitive Brain Function in a Prospect

Incidental Use of Ecstasy: No Evidence for Harmful Effects on Cognitive Brain Function in a Prospect

  1. Jatelka
    Psychopharmacology 2007 Aug;193(3):403-14
    Jager G, de Win MM, Vervaeke HK, Schilt T, Kahn RS, van den Brink W, van Ree JM, Ramsey NF

    RATIONALE: Heavy ecstasy use in humans has been associated with cognitive impairments and changes in cognitive brain function supposedly due to damage to the serotonin system. There is concern that even a single dose of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine may be neurotoxic, but very little is known about the consequences of a low dose of ecstasy for cognitive brain function. OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study was to assess the effects of a low dose of ecstasy on human cognitive brain function using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). MATERIALS AND METHOD: We prospectively studied, as part of the NeXT (Netherlands XTC toxicity) study, sustained effects of a low dose of ecstasy on brain function in 25 subjects before and after their first episode of ecstasy use (mean 2.0 +/- 1.4 ecstasy pills, on average 11.1 +/- 12.9 weeks since last ecstasy use), compared to 24 persistent ecstasy-naive controls, also measured twice and matched with the novice users on age, gender, IQ, and cannabis use. Cognitive brain function was measured in the domains of working memory, selective attention, and associative memory using fMRI. RESULTS: No significant effects were found of a low dose of ecstasy on working memory, selective attention, or associative memory neither at the behavioral level nor at the neurophysiological level. CONCLUSIONS: This study yielded no firm evidence for sustained effects of a low dose of ecstasy on human cognitive brain function. The present findings are relevant for the development of prevention and harm reduction strategies. Furthermore, the study is relevant to the discussion concerning potential therapeutic use of ecstasy