Working memory processing in ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) users is associated with neural alterations as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging. Here, we examined whether cortical activation patterns change after prolonged periods of continued use or abstinence from ecstasy and amphetamine.
We used an n-back task and functional magnetic resonance imaging in 17 ecstasy users at baseline (t1) and after 18 months (t2). Based on the reported drug use at t2 we separated subjects with continued ecstasy and amphetamine use from subjects reporting abstinence during the follow-up period (n = 9 and n = 8, respectively).
At baseline both groups had similar task performance and similar cortical activation patterns. Task performance remained unchanged in both groups. Furthermore, there were no detectable functional magnetic resonance imaging signal changes from t1 to t2 in the follow-up abstinent group. However, the continuing users showed a dose-dependent increased parietal activation for the 2-back task after the follow-up period.
Our data suggest that ecstasy use, particularly in high doses, is associated with greater parietal activation during working memory performance. An altered activation pattern might appear before changes in cognitive performance become apparent and, hence, may reflect an early stage of neuronal injury from the neurotoxic drug ecstasy.
To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
Purchase one-time access:Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
One-time access price info
- For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
- For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'
Subscribe:Subscribe to Biological Psychiatry
Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
Already an online subscriber? Sign in
Register: Create an account
Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect
- Recreational use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or “ecstasy”: Evidence for cognitive impairment.Psychol Med. 2001; 31: 647-658
- Memory impairment in abstinent MDMA (“Ecstasy”) users.Neurology. 1998; 51: 1532-1537
- Self-reports by alcohol and drug abuse inpatients: Factors affecting reliability and validity.Br J Addict. 1992; 87: 1013-1024
- Imaging cognition II: An empirical review of 275 PET and fMRI studies.J Cogn Neurosci. 2000; 12: 1-47
- Effect of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“ecstasy”) on body temperature and liver antioxidant status in mice: Influence of ambient temperature.Arch Toxicol. 2002; 76: 166-172
- Neural correlates of attention and working memory deficits in HIV patients.Neurology. 2001; 57: 101-107
- A study of the mechanisms involved in the neurotoxic action of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”) on dopamine neurones in mouse brain.Br J Pharmacol. 2001; 134: 1711-1723
- Cerebral activation in abstinent ecstasy (MDMA) users during a working memory task: A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study.Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003; 16: 479-487
- Neural correlates of working memory in pure and polyvalent ecstasy (MDMA) users.Neuroreport. 2003; 15: 1983-1987
- Non-linear pharmacoginetics of MDMA (‘esctasy') in humans.Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000; 49: 104-109
- Abnormal brain activation on functional MRI in cognitively asymptomatic HIV patients.Neurology. 2002; 59: 1343-1349
- No difference in brain activation during cognitive performance between ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) users and control subjects: A [H215O]-positron emission tomography study.J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2001; 21: 66-71
- Impaired cognitive performance in drug-free recreational ecstasy (MDMA) users.J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2000; 68: 719-725
- Memory impairment suggests hippocampal dysfunction in abstinent ecstasy users.Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2003; 27: 819-827
- Self-reported drug use data: What do they reveal?.Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1993; 19: 423-441
- Altered serotonin innervation patterns in the forebrain of monkeys treated with ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine seven years previously: Factors influencing abnormal recovery.J Neurosci. 1999; 19: 5096-5107
- Preliminary evidence of hippocampal dysfunction in adolescent MDMA (“ecstasy”) users: Possible relationship to neurotoxic effects.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004; 173: 383-390
- 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)-induced serotonin neurotoxicity: Clinical studies.Neuropsychobiology. 2000; 42: 11-16
- Cognitive performance in 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) users: A controlled study.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999; 143: 417-425
- Memory deficits associated with recreational use of “ecstasy” (MDMA).Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999; 141: 30-36
- Ecstasy (MDMA): Are the psychological problems associated with its use reversed by prolonged abstinence?.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002; 159: 294-303
- Protection against 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine induced neurodegeneration produced by glutathione depletion in rats is mediated by attenuation of hyperthermia.J Neurochem. 2002; 81: 686-695
- Recreational ecstasy/MDMA, the serotonin syndrome, and serotonergic neurotoxicity.Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002; 71: 837-844
- Neuropsychological performance in long-term cannabis users.Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001; 58: 909-915
- Use of amphetamine by recreational users of ecstasy (MDMA) is associated with reduced striatal dopamine transporter densities: A [123I]beta-CIT SPECT study-preliminary report..Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002; 159: 335-340
- Cortical serotonin transporter density and verbal memory in individuals who stopped using 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or “ecstasy”).Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001; 58: 901-906
- Cognitive performance amongst recreational users of “ecstasy.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001; 151: 19-24
- Co-planar Stereotaxic Atlas of the Human Brain.Thieme, Stuttgart, Germany1988
- Mood, cognition and serotonin transporter availability in current and former ecstasy (MDMA) users.Psychopharamcology (Berl). 2003; 167: 85-96
- Association of dopamine transporter reduction with psychomotor impairment in methamphetamine abusers.Am J Psychiatry. 2001; 158: 377-382
- Working memory deficits in current and previous users of MDMA (“ecstasy”).Br J Psychol. 2000; 91: 181-188
- Raves: A review of the culture, the drugs and the prevention of harm.Can Med Assoc J. 2000; 162: 1843-1848
- Attentional processes in abstinent methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) users.Appl Neuropsychol. 2002; 9: 84-91
Published online: August 19, 2004
Accepted: June 7, 2004
Received in revised form: May 13, 2004
Received: February 5, 2004
© 2004 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.