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Recreational 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or 'ecstasy': current perspective and future research prospects


Parrott, AC and Downey, LA and Roberts, CA and Montgomery, C and Bruno, R and Fox, HC, Recreational 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or 'ecstasy': current perspective and future research prospects, Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31, (8) pp. 959-966. ISSN 0269-8811 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 the Authors

DOI: doi:10.1177/0269881117711922


Aims: The purpose of this article is to debate current understandings about the psychobiological effects of recreational 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ‘ecstasy’), and recommend theoretically-driven topics for future research.

Methods: Recent empirical findings, especially those from novel topic areas were reviewed. Potential causes for the high variance often found in group findings were also examined.

Results and conclusions: The first empirical reports into psychobiological and psychiatric aspects from the early 1990s concluded that regular users demonstrated some selective psychobiological deficits, for instance worse declarative memory, or heightened depression. More recent research has covered a far wider range of psychobiological functions, and deficits have emerged in aspects of vision, higher cognitive skill, neurohormonal functioning, and foetal developmental outcomes. However, variance levels are often high, indicating that while some recreational users develop problems, others are less affected. Potential reasons for this high variance are debated. An explanatory model based on multi-factorial causation is then proposed.

Future directions: A number of theoretically driven research topics are suggested, in order to empirically investigate the potential causes for these diverse psychobiological deficits. Future neuroimaging studies should study the practical implications of any serotonergic and/or neurohormonal changes, using a wide range of functional measures.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecstasy, central nervous system, stimulant, memory, cognition, psychobiology, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:125219
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2018-04-09
Last Modified:2018-12-13

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